Unemployment checks are ending for some

FRESNO, Calif.

Starting this Saturday, about 93-thousand people will be cut from federal extension benefits that allowed them to receive money up to 99 weeks.

A drop in the state's unemployment rate to 11-percent - which lowest mark in three years -- is triggering the federal cutoff off long-term unemployment pay. But here in the state's agricultural heartland - the jobless rate is closer to 20-percent in some areas -- and that makes it difficult for some to believe an economic recovery has begun.

Rebecca Robinson is married to a Marine. A war veteran - who worked as a nurse at the VA hospital - until the economy took a turn for the worse. "We moved here with high expectations and then unfortunately after about a year of being here, my husband was laid off."

But come Saturday - his unemployment benefits will be cut off. "I was just devastated. It's really going to impact us financially."

With just two weeks notice - the couple will join 670-thousand other unemployed Californians whose benefits - averaging just $292.00 a week - have already run out.

Angelica Vega said, "I have to apply for general relief because I've exhausted all my benefits."

In 2009 - the EDD says the federal government took extraordinary steps to prop up workers who lost their jobs during the recession. It says the normal 26 weeks of state benefits were supplemented by five types of federal extensions that added up to 73 more weeks -- for a total of 99 weeks of benefits -- the longest on record.

Loree Levy with the Employment Development Department explained, "In order for a state to qualify for the fed extension program you have to have a high unemployment rate and certainly California does have a high unemployment rate, it's just not 10% higher than what's it's been over the last three years and that is a requirement of the program."

Spokesperson Loree Levy says the good news is - California's economy is improving, but unfortunately thousands of the state's chronically unemployed will now lose out on the help they need. And about half of the people collecting unemployment in California - have been out of work for more than six months.

Robinson added, "You'll show up to a job for maybe two positions that are available and there will be 50-100 people applying for the same job."

California is one of eight states where the unemployed will lose support May 12th. The others include Colorado, Florida and Texas to name a few.

Since March 2009 - when the federal program first began - more than 912-thousand Californians received $5 billion in payments.

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