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Texas Unemployment Extended Benefits Cut

April 30, 2012

Jon Vanderlaan

For about 32,000 people in Texas, the unemployment rate in the state is actually too low and they will miss out on up to 13 extra weeks of benefits.

The Texas Workforce Commission announced Wednesday that it would no longer be able to give out extended benefits because Texas does not qualify for the federally funded program.

According to a news release, the March 7 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment rate failed to qualify Texas for the program based on the three-month average needed, and May 12 will be the last payable week of extended benefits.

"March marked the seventh consecutive month of unemployment rate decreases in our state, which has remained below the national unemployment rate for 63 months. These are encouraging signs for job seekers and business owners seeking to set up shop in Texas," TWC Chairman Tom Pauken said. "TWC can assist those seeking workforce services through our 28 local workforce boards."

Willie Taylor, executive director of Permian Basin Workforce Development, said he projects fewer than 50 people a month in the Permian Basin to be affected by the change on benefits.

The low number of people who would claim the benefits and the wages being paid by authorities should help people gain employment quickly, he said.

"When you look at those benefits versus the wages that are being paid in the Permian Basin, there's no comparison," Taylor said. "Most of my board members, they clearly do not understand why anyone would be on extended benefits in the Permian Basin."

Richard Sivalls, president of Sivalls Inc., said he hopes the benefit cuts will cause people to look more seriously for jobs.

"Selfishly, I think it's probably a pretty good idea because we're having trouble out here getting people back to work because they can still collect unemployment," he said. "So, if they can't collect benefits anymore, maybe they'll go out and get a job."

Taylor said that is because of the number of skilled and unskilled jobs that are being offered in the area, with wages up to $15 per hour for unskilled jobs.

Sivalls also said the benefits cut might have an affect on people who are not yet included in the cuts.

"I think psychologically, to everyone else on unemployment, if they see someone's benefits being cut they might think they're next," Sivalls said.

Those in Texas seeking unemployment benefits will now be limited to 73 weeks as opposed to the previous mark of 86 weeks.

Source: (c)2012 the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas)

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