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Unemployment safety net ends for more than 1 million Americans

Congress did not extend program when budget passed

BELOIT, Wis. - 23676132

He sits, just as he has most days, in front of a computer monitor searching for what he needs most -- a job.

Brent Meicher lost his job seven months ago and has been looking unsuccessfully for a new job.

"I bet I've applied for probably a dozen jobs," Meicher said.

He has relied on federal unemployment benefits to care for his four-year-old son, Sean.  

On Saturday, Dec. 28th, those benefits will no longer exist. Congress failed to extend the recession-era program along with the recent passage of budget.

"Tomorrow, it is really tough. I mean this was the last week for people to collect anything and I got mine like everybody else did this week. Starting next week I don't know what is going to happen," says Meicher.

More than one million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits. The loss of benefits has changed Meicher's approach to finding a job.

"I'm just doing everything I possibly can to find work out there. I mean, if I have to take a minimum wage job, which I don't really want to do, but if I have to, that's where I'm at right now," says Meicher.

With the loss of unemployment benefits local food banks are bracing for a possible increase in the number of families needing assistance.

"Especially in the Dane County area your best bet is to dial 2-1-1 over at United Way agency and they will direct you to the service agency where you live," says Al Ripp, executive director of Middleton Outreach Ministry.


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