Out-Of-Work Oklahomans Hope For Benefits Extension

Thursday, December 9th 2010, 5:09 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, News On 6

FAIRFAX, Oklahoma -- As Congress continues to bicker over tax cuts and unemployment benefits, there's no relief in sight for some out-of-work Oklahomans. If lawmakers agree to the deal that will extend benefits for 13 months, it still won't help those who need the most assistance.

For those who have exhausted their unemployment, the only choice is to wait and see if this deal creates the jobs it's supposed to.

Fairfax resident Henry Frye's patience is beginning to run out. The 56-year-old machinist has been without a job for 15 months now, and he exhausted his benefits last month.

He's used to the booms and busts that his industry experiences, but he says the current recession is the worst one he's ever experienced.

"I remember being laid off in the early 80s when we had a real big oil bust. I think it's worse this time than it was then," Henry Frye said.

Frye says he was excited when he learned of a possible deal that would provide funding for unemployment benefits for the next 13 months in exchange for extending tax cuts for those making over $250,000.

But he quickly discovered that he's not eligible for the help.

"I was hoping that it would include people like me," Frye said. "But I called and talked to them, and they say I'm done with unemployment."

Times are tough everywhere, but they might be a little tougher in Frye's hometown of Fairfax. He says there simply aren't many opportunities for a 56-year-old machinist here. He doesn't want to leave, but is willing to work in Tulsa or Oklahoma City.

But for the time being, with no income and no prospects, Frye says the government isn't looking out for people in his shoes.

"They extended unemployment, but it didn't help people like me, and I'm sure there are a lot of people like me in this country," said Henry Frye, an out-of-work machinist.