Friday, December 21, 2012

200,000 unemployed New Yorkers facing their own fiscal cliff

Dannielle Loranger had made it to the middle class. The single mother of two boys had a good job as a molecular biologist at Syracuse Research Corp.

She was making $50,000 with the promise of a raise as soon as she finished her master’s degree. She bought her first house — a little raised ranch in Camillus — in July 2011. She bought her first brand new car.

Then Loranger, 34, lost her job in April. She was one of 35 people laid off at Syracuse Research Corp. Now she depends on a weekly unemployment check to pay her bills.

But that check will disappear Jan. 1 unless Congress acts. Loranger and 200,000 other New Yorkers will lose their unemployment benefits at the end of December if Congress does not vote to extend them.

Loranger is getting emergency unemployment benefits paid for by the federal government. About 50 percent of everyone receiving unemployment benefits in New York has gone beyond the 26 weeks paid for by the state and is now receiving federally funded emergency benefits, according to the state Department of Labor.

Those benefits started when the economy began tanking in 2008. The maximum number of weeks a person can now collect unemployment is 63; it had been as high as 99 weeks.

The emergency unemployment benefits expire at the end of the year and are part of the “fiscal cliff” budget negotiations going on in Congress.

Unlike past years, the payments would not phase out gradually to cushion the blow. The 200,000 people in New York would stop receiving checks immediately unless Congress votes to renew them. POST

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