Unemployment checks could end in a few weeks for many - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Unemployment checks could end in a few weeks for many

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)  --  Nearly 40,000 Tennesseans and nearly 80,000 more in Georgia could lose their employment benefits by the end of December, if Congress does not vote to extend them.

Vance Richie fills out paperwork at the Career Center in Eastgate Monday. He hopes to find a good job.

"You know, I've just been looking, Volkswagen, I put some applications out there on Rossville Boulevard," Richie says.  

He's one of thousands of Chattanoogans who rely on unemployment to get by.

"Well, I need it. I mean, it helps," says Richie.

"It pays our electric bill, and we've got to have electricity to stay warm," explains Gayle Clark.

Clark lost her job in March when her company shut down. She gets $275 a week in unemployment. But her last check will come in January, if Congress does not extend federal unemployment benefits.

"I can't keep my house without money. I didn't ask to become unemployed, I didn't quit my job," says Clark.

Turner Nashe is the UI Director for the Tennessee Department of Labor. He says nearly 40,000 Tennesseans could be affected. 

"Come December 29, 2012, being your last payable week, you'd receive your last check the first week of January, and then you would not be allowed to go beyond the Tennessee unemployment program of 26 weeks," explains Nashe.  

He says all of this extends from the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program of 2008. While the economy is slowly recovering, unemployment remains high and federal money is running out.

"In 2012 going into 2013 you may not be able to make what you were making in 2004, 2005, 2006. We're in a totally different market and at some point you may have to work for less," Nashe says. 

However, for those affected most the new year may bring new and bigger problems.

"I just have to call on the Lord, that's all I can do. I have to look to him, I don't have the answers," Richie says crying.

Channel 3 contacted Senator Bob Corker's office, which released the following statement:

"While an extension of unemployment benefits may be addressed in year-end negotiations, Senator Corker thinks the very best thing we can do for economic growth is to pass a robust fiscal reform package that creates the economic certainty needed for investment and job creation."

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