“It’s really getting tight” Long-term jobless eye bleak future as benefits end


Long-term jobless eye bleak future as benefits end

Lucia Mutikani

Reuters US Online Report Top News

Dec 11, 2011 06:19 EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – George Parks has been out of work for 21 months and his unemployment benefits will run out at the end of the month.

At 60, he fears his prospects of getting a job are very slim, even though he has a degree in civil engineering and has vast experience in project management.

A similar story is recounted by John Jones, 52, a fellow resident of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Jones lost his teaching job last July as the Pennsylvania state government tried to close a funding shortfall.

Parks and Jones are among the nearly 7 million Americans receiving jobless benefits under seven different state and federal programs. Around a quarter of those will fall off the rolls in January if Congress does not renew an extended benefits program that expires at year end.

Parks’ savings are almost exhausted and his house has lost more than 30 percent of its value, making it hard for him to seek job opportunities outside Pennsylvania.

He has tried to market his management skills in manufacturing and the fast-growing field of health care, but has found them already overcrowded.

“It’s really getting tight,” Parks told Reuters. “The ability to provide is really diminishing and it becomes more the ability to survive.”

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