Thousands Set to Lose Unemployment Benefits - 8 News NOW

Thousands Set to Lose Unemployment Benefits

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LAS VEGAS -- On Saturday, 17,000 Nevadans stand to lose the unemployment benefits they count on every single week. The benefits are for people who have been out of work longer than six months.

Nevadans were hit with this news two weeks ago, when Congress failed to agree on a budget to extend these benefits.

Officials say some people in this group abuse the system, while others are just unemployable, but still some others who rely on extended unemployment benefits are trying to find a back-up plan so their families won't suffer.

"What really worries me is my kids, I got three at home. I have to feed them. I have to keep my rent," Rogelia Cortez said.

Cortez is one of 17,000 Nevadans whose unemployment benefits end this week, but he isn't giving up, instead he signed up for a culinary training program at the unemployment office .

"They sent me over here for an interview to see if they can help me with financial aid and they approve it. Now I'm enrolled and I'm ready to start on the 8th of next month," Cortez said.

Training programs is one option people have, deputy director of the Department of Training and Rehabilitation Dennis Perea said.

"If they can get to our job connect offices, if there is training dollars out there for people that would like to take even short-term certificate training to try to bolster their skills to get back into the workforce," Perea said.

The other option for some families is state assistance from a different agency.

"Unfortunately, some of these people are going to end up on welfare by the time this is done," Perea said.

Lawmakers vow extending emergency benefits will be their first order of business in 2014.

That is why DETR says the most important thing people getting unemployment benefits can do now is to keep filing their claims.

"They won't get paid but it will keep those claims going forward. So, if they do extend it and they back date it, our system can automatically run back and catch them," Perea said.

Cortez isn't waiting for Washington. He vows to finish training and hunt until he finds work.

"If I get a job, I'm lucky, but I have to make the effort to go the extra mile," Cortez said.

DETR says this also affects 60 of their employees who work in its unemployment claims call center.

The department has had to cut workers hours back but it is tapping into a rainy-day fund to pay workers the next 30 days.

In January, if Congress does not extend these funds, even more people could jump in the unemployment line.

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