Local job seekers to lose benefits

TRI-CITIES, WA- Thousands of people who are unemployed will lose their benefits at the end of the month. And many of them are here in the Tri Cities.

Almost three thousand people here in the Tri-Cities will feel the effects of a statewide program cut. The federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation program will end December 29-th.
Ryan Hedquist is one of them who won't have any income.

"You never know when you are getting laid off so it's helpful to have that in place. So, when you need it, it's there. I'd rather be working for sure though," said job seeker Ryan Hedquist.

Ryan is married with three kids. The carpenter got laid off at Hanford in April and only had a short three-month stint after that. His letter just came in the mail that his unemployment benefits will be gone.

"The money is running out, it stinks, I wish Congress would get off their butts and make a deal, stop bickering, it's tough during the holidays, but I always find a way," said Hedquist.

The extended benefits are among the things at risk if there's no deal to keep the country from going over the so-called fiscal cliff. This added safety net has been in place for four years.

"My family. They keep me going and I hope there is another job out there, I hope Congress passes budget, and Hanford will pick back up, that would be great," said Hedquist.

Local economists tell KEPR this will be a wake up call for people like Ryan to pound the pavement.

"Hopefully, help them go out and start pushing to find a job, they will be encouraged some way," said local economist Ajsa Suljic.

Ryan says he might have to move his family if things don't turn around soon.

"Just keep plugging away, looking. If nothing comes up, we might have to travel outside of Washington and Oregon. Whatever I have to do, I'll find a way to provide for my family," said Hedquist.

Worksource tells KEPR, residents who are currently enrolled in E-U-C benefits are still being mailed information of the benefit cut off. They invite anyone with questions to come in and talk with their staff.