The new year isn’t starting well for 213,793 Californians; their unemployment benefits expired last Saturday, owing to inaction by House Republicans.
Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee released a state by state count of American workers who lost their benefits. California is one of the hardest-hit, as is Nevada.
In addition to the 213,793 Californians whose jobless benefits ended over the weekend, 325,800 others stand to lose their benefits in the first half of 2014, unless they find work or Congress acts upon its return to Washington, D.C.
California’s unemployment rate of 8.3 percent remains above the national average. Parts of the Central Valley are far above the average. Consider these numbers:
In Tulare County, unemployment is 12.9 percent and 3,256 people lost their benefits. In Fresno County, 12.6 percent of the workforce is out of work and 7,108 people lost benefits. In Merced County, unemployment is 13.6 percent and 1,939 lost benefits.
Stanislaus County: 12.1 percent unemployment and 3,749 lost benefits. San Joaquin County: 12.2 percent unemployment and 4,942 lost benefits. Sacramento County: 8.1 percent unemployment and 8,599 lost benefits.
For perspective, the average unemployment check is $1,166 per month. Multiply that by 8,599 Sacramento County people who won’t get checks in January. That’s $10 million per month. The cut will hurt individuals. It also will hurt people selling gasoline and food.
The Fresno Bee recently quoted Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, as saying extending unemployment “hurts the unemployed” because it “reduces the incentive they have to get into the workforce.”
Unemployed workers won’t be getting checks, but still will have a vote.
Come November, perhaps they will use their votes to help House Republicans who oppose the extension test their theory.