WatchSonoma Watch

Sonoma County’s jobless brace for federal benefit cut


A lifeline that helped many people who lost their jobs during the recession stay afloat could be cut at the end of the month.

That’s when extended unemployment benefits provided by the federal government since 2008 are set to expire, impacting more than 2,200 Sonoma County residents who receive them.

“There’s a lot of concern out there,” said Steven Czegus, manager of Sonoma County Job Link, which partners with the state Employment Development Department to help people apply for unemployment insurance and find jobs.

unemployment office“We know it’s a lifeline cut, and we’re trying to let people know so they can plan accordingly,” said EDD spokesperson Patti Roberts.

California offers workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own 26 weeks of unemployment insurance ranging from $40 to $450 a week. When the recession took hold in 2008 and caused unemployment to soar, the federal government stepped in to provide additional pay through something called Emergency Unemployment Compensation. The benefit has changed over the past few years, but in 2013, Californians were eligible for 37 extra weeks of federal unemployment pay.

But the program expires at the end of 2013 unless Congress moves to extend it another year — something it would have to do before it adjourns for the holidays.

“It helped me pay my bills,” said Steve Loveday, a 54-year-old Santa Rosa resident, of the $435 per week he’s been receiving in federal unemployment compensation.

He lost his information technology job, which he’d held for a year and a half, last December. Before that, he worked for another information technology company for 18 years. He said he’s applied for 40 to 50 jobs over the past year without success.

Loveday’s wife works as a housekeeper, bringing in about $250 a week, he said. The unemployment pay helped him make his house payments. However, Loveday isn’t worried about making those payments if the federal program expires. In August, he qualified for a program called Keep Your Home California that helps distressed home owners make their mortgage payments.

“I was thankful to get (the unemployment compensation),” he said, “but I didn’t expect it to last forever.”

Job Link’s offices were busy Thursday with people searching for work and filing for unemployment benefits. Many of those people stood to lose their federal unemployment insurance in just a few weeks.

Sebastopol resident Jorge Gonzales’s state unemployment insurance is set to expire at the end of the year. After that, he would have to apply for the federally extended compensation. He only recently learned that program is set to expire.

“I thought, ‘Wow, well, I don’t see getting a job in the near future,” said Gonzales, 32, who has struggled to find work since he lost his full-time job in Windsor about two years ago. “I’d love to get a job; I’d love to work tomorrow if I could,” he said. Unemployment insurance has helped him buy food and pay the bills.

“If I didn’t have it,” he said, “my situation would be a lot worse than it is now.”

Dori Hudson, an 82-year-old resident of Valley Village mobile home park in Rohnert Park, was more circumspect. In March, she lost her job of six years when the company she was working for closed. Since then, she’s been receiving unemployment compensation of about $840 a month, which she said nearly doubles the modest amount she receives from Social Security and her deceased husband’s pension. It allowed her to pay her cell phone bill and help her sons, who are also on fixed incomes.

“I already told them, Christmas is not going to be big this year,” she said. She’s been coming to Job Link looking for a part-time job that can supplement her retirement income, so far without success.

But, she said, she worries more about others than herself. “I have enough to survive,” she said. “But there are so many people who really need it, who have young children. I pray for them.”

As of Friday, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives were pushing for Federal Unemployment Compensation to be extended as part of a year-end budget deal.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, along with other California lawmakers, wrote a letter to House Speaker John Boehner in late November, urging him to push for extending unemployment benefits another year.

In the meantime, the California Employment Development Department is notifying more than 222,000 long-term unemployed Californians that they will lose their benefits at the end of the year, Roberts said.

Job Link’s Czegus said that when people lose their unemployment pay, his agency often has them file for other government assistance programs.

He encouraged anyone facing the year-end cutoff to come in to Job Link’s offices on Capricorn Way.

“We can help as much as possible,” he said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Jamie Hansen at 521-5205 or jamie.hansen@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter at @JamieHansen.)

11 Responses to “Sonoma County’s jobless brace for federal benefit cut”

  1. Follower says:

    No Bear, the “fact” is that without the PRIVATE SECTOR creating wealth for the “public sector” to tax, THERE IS NO PUBLIC SECTOR!

    Those “roads, sewer, water, police and fire services” don’t exist until someone has something he wants to sell, someone wants to buy it and the Government taxes the transaction.

    I guess you could call that “Intro to Economics 101”!

    But no, keep your head in the sand. Remain a “low information voter” and vote accordingly.

  2. GAJ says:

    Mockingbird said:

    “Don’t raise the minimum wage because that would cut too much into the wealth of the 1% like the owners of Walmart and McDonald’s.”

    You do realize that your average Joe who invests in mutual funds and such are the major stakeholders, right?

    You know, like Pension Funds and people investing in IRA’s and 401k’s.

    The number one owner of WalMart stock is Vanguard, they are also the number one owner of McDonald’s stock.

    Evil evil Vanguard with its low costs to investors like you and me.

  3. Show Me The Money says:

    I thought that is way they built the Casino in RP. More jobs for the unskilled and untrained. What happened to that great idea? Are they waiting for all of those long promised smart train jobs?

  4. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Another Christmas present from the Republicans to the working families of America. Cut their foodstamps, cut their safety nets, cut their unemployment because they are all just a bunch of lazy nobodies mooching off the taxpayers. Republicans know this and know that they could find jobs if they really wanted to. Don’t raise the minimum wage because that would cut too much into the wealth of the 1% like the owners of Walmart and McDonald’s.

    The irony here is that who they are really harming are CHILDREN. I guess they only care about fetuses. Once they are born they are nothing.

    I yearn for a compassionate, socially responsible Republican to run for office who cares about his fellow man and who has the true Christian spirit toward his fellow man, NOT just his fellow rich man.

  5. bear says:

    Economics 101.

    EVERY job, whether private or public, is a vital part of an economy that is 70% based on consumption. That would be consumption by anyone.

    If you have money to spend, you are lucky, even if you are a college graduate buried in student loans.

    Richard Nixon, of all people, had a program called “CETA” in the 70s. Half the pay, no benefits, one-year limit. A lot of it went to government, and a lot of those people became long-term employees who were good consumers.

    This might fix your “road problems.” And people would be working for pay.

    Fact is, the private sector could not exist without public investment in nasty things like roads, sewer, water, police and fire services.

    Tell me I’m wrong and suggest a better solution.

  6. James Bennett says:

    Right-o Steveguy.
    The corporatists, globalists, fascist cabal, whatever you want to call them will be paid back first.

    To hell with us, the trust, social security, pensions, public services, hunger, etc.,etc..

    THE THING that drives me nuts is that through our alignment with these ‘green’ NGOs, our public officials align us with these gangsters.


    ICLEI is tasked with implementing the action plan that is UN Agenda 21.
    Who do you think the players are that conceived this tyranny to enslave the planet and enrich themselves beyond comprehension? Multi-national corporations. Maurice Strong was possibly the most central figure; a Canadian oil billionaire. He’s currently in exile in China for his theft in the Oil for Food Program.
    Rockefeller; he believes that “competition is a sin”.
    Who’s behind the ‘Climate Action Plans’ being rolled out right now out of public purview? ICF International; a multi-national corporation that’s into everything. Namely ENERGY.
    This oppression/takeover/theft isn’t about the environment.
    It’s about gutting all the wealth and resources from our Country and reducing us to serfs. Simple.
    The Pentagon is ‘missing’ $8.5 TRILLION dollars, they, like the FED refuse to be audited (even though they’re supposed to be audited annually).
    The IRS IS THE IMF, more globalist enslavement.

    Anyway, my point is we’re being robbed blind.


    It’s not about the environment.

    Or doing the right thing by us.

  7. brown act jack says:

    Well that is one way to lower the un-employment rate, isn’t it?

    but why work when you can get money for not-working and get the additional benefits from the welfare offices, which , I assume, that the un-employed also are entitled to?

    I read , somewhere, someplace, and some time in the last month, that a single woman, with children, would have to earn over $50,000 a month to have more spending money than being on welfare.

    True, or not, I know not.

  8. Steveguy says:

    Odd thing is, once they are off the rolls they don’t count as unemployed anymore.

    So, the unemployment numbers will go down ( with no relation to reality) and the stock market will go up.

    The Banksters are going to get their money.

  9. Papa ESoCo says:

    Well, well, the Republican,”Tea Party” controlled, do nothing Congress comes through again; not.

  10. James Bennett says:

    Another domino starts to fall…

  11. Reality Check says:

    Did reporter Hansen miss the plethora of help wanted signs that populate store front windows these days? An editor should have wanted that inconvenient fact squared with the general tone of plight the permeates the article.