Long-term unemployment benefits end Dec. 28, millions affected

On Saturday, 1.3 million Americans will be losing their primary source of income after the federal government ends its Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program.

According to the state's Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW), 12,900 people who live in South Carolina will be affected.

After the great recession in 2008, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program was created to extend benefits to those who have been unemployed for six months or more.

Darla Hewitt is one of them.

Last December, she found out she was losing her job of 10 years. By April, she was jobless and filed for unemployment benefits.

"I'm not one to really be on unemployment, because I'm a really hard worker," she said.

She still has no job eight months later. On Saturday, she won't get a steady check either.

At this point, it's not clear what Darla or others affected by the end of these long term unemployment benefits will do.

Public Information Director Adrienne Fairwell of the DEW advised people like Darla to focus their efforts on finding a job through the state's free job centers, including SC Works.

"What we would suggest doing is brushing up on those workplace skills so that when they're applying or interviewing for jobs that they're able to be the selected candidate," Fairwell said.

Fairwell also encouraged people to continue to file for long-term unemployment.

"We are encouraging those individuals who are on emergency unemployment compensation to continue to file because Congress sometimes does things retroactively and that way - if they continue to file - then they don't run the risk of losing out on one weeks pay of benefits," said Fairwell.

Congress has been extending these long-term employment benefits since 2008. There has been discussion of them extending it again in January.

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