By now, most American adults have heard the term "99-ers."
They are people on extended unemployment benefits, which can stretch up to 99 weeks. But now those extensions are starting to come to an end.
"My world's coming to an end."
Ray Mullins has been out of work since last year.
Despite 30 years of experience in auto repair and mechanical systems maintenance, and a great work record, Mullins says he was caught by downsizing.
Now, he'll soon be downsized again, after getting bad news from the head of his local unemployment office.
"The manager stood up and announced to everyone in the room that as of this week, all extensions are done, the check you get this weekend will be your last check," Mullins said.
In states across the country, extended benefits are beginning to come to an end.
Mullins won't get the chance to become a 99-er. His reaction? "I thought my world's coming to an end."
Why the Extensions are Ending
The extensions, set up by Congress to help states with high unemployment rates, end when unemployment drops.
So what had been 99 weeks in many states is now dropping to 79 weeks, as hiring improves.
Early in 2013, even that extension will start phasing out, back down to the original 26 weeks, or just over 6 months of benefits, unless Congress restores the extensions for 2013.
Critics of the 99 week plan say it encourages people to sit at home instead of hunting for a job. But Mullins, who looks for work every day, can't understand why Congress is pulling the rug out from under him and thousands of others.
He said "I do everything. I network, get on the computer, even take one day and drive around past all the factories, stop and talk to them. I don't see the economy improving." He said he's had a couple of offers, but they were for minimum wage jobs without health insurance.
Falling unemployment is good news for workers, as companies start hiring again. But it's bad news if you can't find work.
And so if you are on unemployment, check with your local office to see if your benefits may soon be cut, so you can plan, and so you don't waste your money.
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