Sequester Law cuts weekly unemployment checks by 21%

TRI-CITIES, Wash. - There are more people out of work in the Tri-Cities than most cities around the state. And the latest budget battles mean those out of work are getting less help than before.

Dr. Uma Dhanabalan spent her residency in Boston. She was at a hospital in Harvard before coming to Hanford. Then she was laid off as an occupational physician in the fall.

"Shock is the word that sums it up best, I had no idea," said Dr. Uma Dhanabalan.

The doctor has been unemployed for six months. And now, another blow. Her unemployment checks will be cut by more than 20 percent.

"Mentally, emotionally, and looking to find the other support systems, how you can make the changes, and how long will this last and how long til the next cut," said Dr. Dhanabalan.

Uma is not alone. The Tri-Cities have more than two-thousand people on the emergency unemployment compensation program -- known as EUC. Another 22 hundred are in Yakima. Compare that to 25 hundred in Spokane which is a much larger community.

This is no windfall in the first place. People on EUC are getting a minimum of 143 dollars a week to live on. That will be reduced to 112 dollars. Doctor Uma thinks it will hurt our economic recovery.

"It's going to be a spiraling circle and actually cause further depression in our system, people will be further depressed," said Dr. Dhanabalan.

Uma hoped to retire in the next couple years. She's had to adjust her gameplan. Being told she's overqualified for most positions she applies for. With a son at Harvard studying for his Master's, Uma can only hope to get back into the swing of things.

"All of a sudden the purpose of getting up in the morning, having a routine and then your purpose of who you are as an employee is no longer there," said Dr. Dhanabalan.

As the benefits she relied on, will no longer be there, either.

Nearly 40-thousand people in the state of Washington are currently under the EUC program. The cuts will begin next week.