4,000 jobless in Valley still in limbo

Trumbull County

November 2010: 142

December 2010: 2,009

January 2011: 1,237

Total: 5,694

Mahoning County

November 2010: 138

December 2010: 1,952

January 2011: 1,202

Total: 5,532

Columbiana County

November 2010: 60

December 2010: 855

January 2011: 527

Total: 2,423


November 2010: 7,620

December 2010: 108,059

January 2011: 66,558

Total: 306,293

Source: Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services/Office of

Unemployment Compensation

Congress fails to reach agreement on extension of benefits

By Grace Wyler



More than 4,000 people in the Mahoning Valley are projected to exhaust their unemployment benefits this month if Congress does not approve legislation to extend unemployment compensation before the holiday recess.

Ohio’s extended-benefits program, which is federally funded, is set to end Saturday.

Federal emergency unemployment benefits began to expire Wednesday after the Senate failed to approve a one-year emergency extension of unemployment benefits Tuesday night.

About 2 million unemployed people are expected to lose their benefits by Christmas if no extension is approved, according to U.S. Labor Department estimates.

Senate Republicans, as well as a handful of Democrats, have opposed extending benefits unless their cost is offset by cuts in the budget.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who supports benefit extensions, accused Republicans of playing politics with middle-class livelihoods.

“It is a difficult time for so, so many people,” Brown said. “It’s really ‘Bah Humbug’ that Republicans are saying to Ohioans who just want to catch a break in the next six weeks.”

Nearly 88,500 of Ohio’s unemployed are at risk for losing their emergency benefits if an extension does not pass, Brown said.

Overall, 108,059 Ohioans are expected to exhaust unemployment benefits in December, up from 7,620 in November, according to the latest estimates from the state’s Department of Jobs and Family Services.

Without additional federal legislation, regular unemployment-compensation claimants who exhausted their benefits after Nov. 20 are not eligible for the most recent emergency unemployment-compensation program, which was passed in July.

Those receiving emergency benefits are no longer eligible for the next tier of benefits as of Nov. 27 but will continue to receive checks for the remaining weeks of their current tier, according to OJFS. The program will be phased out completely by April.

Locally, 2,009 unemployed Trumbull County residents are expected to exhaust their benefits this month, giving the county the 11th-highest number of unemployment exhaustees in the state, according to JFS. Mahoning County follows at No. 12, with 1,952 people projected to run out of their unemployment benefits in December.

In Columbiana County, 855 unemployed people will exhaust unemployment compensation this month. Columbiana ranks 27th among Ohio’s 88 counties.

The end of unemployment aid to so many people is likely to have an impact on the local economy, said Benjamin Turner, an administrator for Trumbull County One-Stop.

“When they cut the unemployment benefits, they take out a lifeline that people are using to pay their mortgages, buy food,” he said. “These people are going to be looking for other sources of assistance.”

The large rise in the number of people with limited income is expected to increase the burden on the area’s social services and charities, said Turner, who also works with the Trumbull County JFS.

“I think a lot of people are still assessing the services,” he said. “We will start seeing waves in the next week or two.”

The depressed local job market likely will be exacerbated by the negative effects of major unemployment-insurance cuts, said Bert Cene, director of the Mahoning Columbiana Training Association, which oversees work-force development in the two counties.

“Obviously there are going to be a lot of people that are impacted by this,” Cene said. “Everybody is gearing up for this, assuming people are going to be losing the only revenue they have coming in.”

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