Extended jobless benefits in jeopardy

By Howard Dicus - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds of Hawaii residents who could use extended unemployment benefits won't get them if the program expires at the end of this month. And it's scheduled to.

The federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program expires Nov. 30 - in two weeks - unless Congress enacts an extension and sends it to the White House, according to the Hawaii Department of Labor & Industrial Relations.

Pearl Imada-Iboshi, the state labor secretary, said Tuesday that 400 Hawaii residents a week exhaust their regular jobless benefits, which run up to 26 weeks, or half a year.

The extended program, which has several tiers, adds 47 more weeks beyond that. Since its original enactment in the summer of 2008, the program has assisted 48,000 unemployed Hawaii residents. More than 8,000 residents have used the full extended benefits. Most of the rest found work during the extended benefit period.

"Individuals who are already collecting EUC may continue to collect the benefits on their respective ier through April 30, 2011," Imada-Iboshi said, "but no new EUC tiers may be added after Nov. 30."

She said about 500 local residents per week progress from one tier to another.

The current Congress may have the votes to extend the program if opponents do not filibuster the idea.

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