Politics

December 19, 2012

Jobless benefits could end for up to 7,100 in Maine

The question of whether to approve another yearlong extension in eligibility is tied to the ‘fiscal cliff’ crisis.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, arrives for a closed-door meeting with House Republicans as he negotiates with President Obama to avert the fiscal cliff, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. More than 7,000 Maine residents could be among the first Americans to fall off the "fiscal cliff" unless Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill agree to extend unemployment benefits for 2 million Americans who have been out of work for six months or longer. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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Among those who will be watching closely is John Degon of Portland, who began searching for work in February when it was clear that his position would be cut. Degon said he has applied for about 50 jobs -- both professional and non-professional -- and done all of the recommended networking, without success.

He has a background as a librarian and is looking to combine his teaching and training skills in a corporate setting.

While a few temporary jobs and seasonal work have helped, he estimates that his benefits will run out in March if Congress does not act. Although he has a roof over his head thanks to his partner, Degon is fearful about how he would repay his student loans and contribute to paying bills without unemployment benefits. "If I run out and have zero income, I'm really scared," he said.

A recent report by the Congressional Budget Office said unemployment benefits actually help to create jobs because almost every dollar immediately flows back into the economy.

James Sherk with the conservative Heritage Foundation disagreed, writing recently that the organization's own analysis found that the checks don't always spawn "new consumption" and may, in fact, delay re-employment.

But, Sherk wrote, that doesn't mean the benefits should revert back to 26 weeks.

"(Unemployment insurance) benefits provide important assistance to those struggling to find jobs," he wrote in a recent blog. "Rather, Congress should make policy tradeoffs between the humanitarian benefits of (unemployment) spending and the economic costs they entail."

Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

kmiller@mainetoday.com

On Twitter: @KevinMillerDC

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