Good news/bad news: Washington unemployment down, but benefits ending for those who still need them

by: Kevin McCarty, KIRO 7 Eyewitness News South Sound Reporter Updated:

It’s supposed to be good news – the unemployment rate in our state is falling – but for some long-term jobless residents in Washington, it means they’re about to lose their unemployment benefits.

Some could lose their unemployment checks within about two weeks, and for some, it’s their only source of income. It’s frightening news for people trying to get back into a tough job market.

“Now, you put out a resume and just – no one is calling you,” Dawn Duran said.

During has been looking for a job for about 20 weeks. She was an office administrative assistant for 13 years and said she’s unnerved that her unemployment benefits could be slashed.

“You need some type of income, and to know that you could lose everything – your house, your car, everything – just because you don’t have that, it’s scary,” she said.

It’s a classic good news/bad news scenario.

That the unemployment rate is falling is good. The bad news is that because the rate has fallen below 8.5 percent, emergency unemployment compensation – cash supplied by the federal government – is going away.

That means 12,000 unemployed workers will lose their extended benefits on April 21. Another 11,000 will lose them by late June, and another 40,000 people could run out of benefits during the final six months of the year.

“It sort of looks like I’m in a dinosaur trade,” said Dave Brooks, who’s been a boiler operator for nearly 40 years.

He said a man at his age, in a vanishing occupation and a competitive job market, will likely suffer if long-term unemployment compensation goes away.

“Since the end of November, I’ve been submitting resumes … and I’ve gotten three call-backs to even get an interview,” he said.

There are about 175,000 people in Washington state collecting unemployment benefits right now. Those affected by the cut-back will get notices in the next few days.