LAS VEGAS - Struggling Nevadans show up at Nevada Job Connect every day looking for work, longing for those pre-recession times when they had steady jobs.
Glenda Mackie used to work for a travel agency. She suddenly found herself without a job and relying on unemployment insurance to pay rent, buy food and fill up her gas tank.
"I lost my job in March of this year, and I've been on unemployment since then," she said. "I think I have about three weeks left, and that's it as far as I know."
Lawmakers in Washington have, so far, failed to extend unemployment benefits. Mackie doesn't know what she will do without her $300-a-week unemployment payment.
"There are about 20,000 people who are going to be affected fairly soon, but we have some figures that said there are roughly 65,000 people that are on unemployment insurance in the state of Nevada, and by January-ish, about half of them will have lost all of their benefits," said Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation assistant manager Lynn Baird. "What that means in nuts and bolts is the extended benefit program will begin to phase out. Some of it will end immediately, but a lot of it will just slowly phase out over the next four or five months."
Baird offers advice to those out of work. "Keep filing your claim, because if Congress passes the bill, then it will be all ready to go, and we can pay immediately," she said.
Unless Congress acts, Mackie and other out-of-work Nevadans could experience a blue Christmas. "Christmas, there's not going to be much of a Christmas," Mackie said.
Congress has encountered similar standoffs regarding unemployment benefits in recent months. Lawmakers voted to extend the benefits eight times over the last two years.
To find out when your benefits will end, call the unemployment office at 775-684-0427 or visit the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation website.