Oklahomans May Lose Extended Unemployment Benefits

Tuesday, December 4th 2012, 4:48 pm
By: News On 6

Thousands of Oklahomans are at risk of losing their unemployment benefits. The federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress takes action.

Emergency Unemployment Compensation Benefits, or EUC, are for people who have gone through 26 weeks of unemployment. But it's a controversial program, and if Congress doesn't extend it by the end of the month those benefits will run out.

EUC was created in 2008. It gives people 14 weeks of extended unemployment benefits while they continue to look for a job. It's been extended several times since it was created.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says close to 7,000 people in the state are currently in the program.

The program is part of the negotiations in Washington to avoid the "fiscal cliff." It's scheduled to end on January 2nd with last payments going out the week of Christmas.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says when the program was its strongest Oklahomans could get up to 47 weeks of federal unemployment benefits in addition to state benefits.

"It has been a program that has impacted a lot of Oklahomans," said John Carpenter of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. "It's aimed at the long termed unemployed and we've had, since it's inception back in 2008, nearly 320,000 claims filed on this program."

WorkForce Tulsa wants those getting EUC benefits to know that this is a good time to find a job. The center's executive director says several companies in the Tulsa area have turned away business because they don't have enough workers.

"If you're a machinist or a welder you can write your own ticket right now - that's across the state of Oklahoma for welders, machinists, manufacturing, production," said Shelley Cadamy Munoz of Workforce Tulsa.

If you're concerned about losing your EUC benefits, you can call the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission's service center at 1-800-555-1554.