Debt-ceiling deal to affect RI unemployment checks


As thousands of Rhode Islanders seek jobs, they are being supported by unemployment benefits, mostly funded with federal dollars.

Some unemployed workers could receive checks for 99 weeks.

But after December, the federal money goes away, leaving only the 26-week term for state unemployment.

“People need to take very seriously the opportunity to get the training they need so they’ll be ready to take the jobs when they do open up,” said Charles Fogarty, director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.

In Washington, Democrats blame Republicans for the end of longer benefits.

“We have until December to try to work something out, but we can anticipate they will again try to block extension of unemployment benefits,” said U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.

“The more people who get back to work, the fewer people will need unemployment. So that’s a win-win all the way around but in the short term, this is a vital lifeline for people,” said U.S. Rep. James Langevin.

It’s also an important injection of cash into the Rhode Island economy that will disappear.

“That’s a huge impact. When it’s finally implemented, we’re talking about $22 to $23 million a month out of the Rhode Island economy,” Fogarty said.

And 14,000 families cut off from their payments.

“We’re working with some of the home service providers to say, ‘Look this is a big problem that’s going to hit right around the holidays and the winter months and we need to coordinate as best we can to provide folks some place to go when these federal benefits expire,'” Fogarty said.

Fogarty said anybody on unemployment needs to double up on job training and networking because he doesn’t think the unemployment checks are going to be refunded.

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