Area social service agencies are bracing for the worst as Congress debates whether to extend unemployment benefits in the lame duck session. ideastream®'s Rick Jackson reports.
More than 22,000 unemployed workers in the four counties of Cuyahoga, Medina, Summit and Lorain are in danger of losing their weekly unemployment compensation, beginning this week.
Up to this point, many jobless people have been able to collect up to 99 weeks of benefits, counting combined state and federal checks. Those aids ran out for a few people in November - but begin to impact many, many, more - this weekend.
Ben Johnson of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services is hoping Washington takes action.
"Unless Congress votes to once again extend the federal unemployment compensation program, there are a lot of people who are most likely going to lose their benefits before they find their next job opportunity."
Just in Cuyahoga County, more than 12 thousand workers face losing their benefits in December.
January and February could add 13-thousand new names to that list.
And in those two months, 10 thousand people in Summit, Medina and Lorain Counties, face the same fate. That would bring the combined total of people losing their support to 45 thousand.
And by April, the last of the federal benefits will expire, affecting more than 300,000 Ohioans.
Johnson says the cash strapped state may have to step in to offer what aid it can.
"Many of those people will turn back to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services for some of the other assistance we provide; cash assistance, food assistance, medical assistance being the three primary programs."