News

Counties prepare for effect of long-term unemployment benefits cut

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jan 16, 2014 1:56 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Midstate counties are bracing for an increase in demand for services after Congress allowed long-term unemployment benefits to expire.

Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick says the social services staff has been discussing how to find people the help they need, with an already tight county budget.

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Estimates say about 80,000 people statewide lost long-term benefits.

"The areas that we manage, from homeless assistance to homelessness to the amount of money for rental assistance, all of those dollars have significantly dropped. And distress on those areas, particularly at a time where the economy isn't fully turned around, is probably going to be even greater," says Harwick, a Democrat.

"I'm sure we're going to be getting calls from individuals who are in a pretty difficult predicament, and we'll be meeting with our social services staff to discuss how we're going to be able to address that."

But he wouldn't say whether he feels unemployment benefits should be extended, instead saying the focus in Congress should be on the economy.

Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick says just because federal benefits end, doesn't mean the demand for help has disappeared.

Republicans balked at an extension without offsetting cuts, though several voted for them under President George W-Bush.

Nearly all Democrats are pushing for an extension, saying measures to actually create jobs will come after the emergency legislation.

The proposal is awaiting action in the House after it passed the Senate.

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