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83K Pa. Residents Could Lose Unemployment Assistance

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — “It’s very discouraging,” said Earl Seawright referring to the economic climate in Philadelphia.

The 53-year-old is unemployed and has been for almost a year. He lives in a small cramped room that he rents in Logan. In his room, he keeps several bottles of medicine. He’s recovering from colon cancer and he has a blood disorder. The thought of losing his unemployment benefits only adds to the stress in his life.

“I hope something will be done and they’ll be able to hear the voices of the people,” said Seawright.

Seawright is talking about the voices of 83,000 Pennsylvanian’s who, according to the state’s Department of Labor and Industry, could lose unemployment assistance starting December 1 if Congress doesn’t extend benefits.

In Pennsylvania, you can receive a maximum of 26 weeks of unemployment through the state.

With the federal government’s extension, those looking for work are eligible for 53 weeks of Emergency Unemployment Compensation and another 20 weeks of Extended Benefits. A total of 99 weeks.

“I like the 99 weeks because I know a lot of people who’ve been out of work,” said Mike Williams of Philadelphia.

“The extension is good but you have to offer programs to help people find jobs,” said another Philadelphia resident.

Ahnivah Williams, with Philadelphia’s Unemployment Project, says everyday she works with people who have been on unemployment for more than a year.

“My main concern is people that I know, the people we work with and what they’re going to do with their lives once benefits are done,” said Williams.

On Wednesday, about 30 workers with Philadelphia Unemployment Project are headed to Washington D.C. to urge lawmakers to pass a bill that would extend benefits to millions of people who haven’t been able to find a job.

Reported By: Jericka Duncan, CBS 3

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