Wisconsin News

Sen. Baldwin explains local impact of federal unemployment benefits

Senate voted to clear the way for extension of federal unemployment benefits

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The millions of people relying on federal unemployment benefits are one step closer to getting a paycheck

On Tuesday, Senate lawmakers voted to clear the way for a three-month extension for federal unemployment benefits but U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin said this matter is far from being settled.

Baldwin says it is essential for the bill to pass through Congress, especially for those living in Wisconsin without benefits.

When Congress adjourned at the end of last year without confronting this issue, it cut off federal unemployment benefits to almost 2,400 jobless people in Wisconsin.

La Crosse resident Deb Korus said she has been working tirelessly to find work before her benefits run out.  She has been searching for a job for more than three months.

"I am always here at least once a week, sometimes twice a week," said Korus. 

To make ends meet while Korus doesn't have a full-time job, she gets state unemployment benefits.

"It's been a big life saver.  I am fortunate I don't have a mortgage, or rent, or a house payment or anything to make.  If I did I think I would be in trouble," said Korus.

Korus's time is quickly running out.  Under current law, she gets about six months' worth of benefits.


"The average length of time it takes to get a full-time job in this area is six months, so I am fast approaching that time.  Hopefully I will have something full time before my unemployment runs out," said Korus.

The Senate has voted to clear the way for an extension for federal unemployment benefits to help those like Korus have more time.

"We have in Wisconsin tens of thousands of people who will be impacted.  People who have been looking hard for work, but despite their best efforts have not been able to land employment and rely on emergency unemployment compensation to make ends meet," said Baldwin.

It is no secret the country has been climbing out of a recession but Baldwin said the situation in Wisconsin is more dire than other parts of the country.

"It has taken the country a long time to climb out of it.  Wisconsin has unfortunately been lagging behind the national recovery," said Baldwin.

In December, an Associated Press report said Wisconsin led the nation in new jobless claims. 

Baldwin said now is the time Congress has to do something.

"It is an emergency situation and that is what Congress is called upon to do, to respond to our nation's challenges and emergencies," said Baldwin.

It starts with the approval in the Senate and the hopes of it passing in Congress, giving a glimmer of hope to those working so hard to find employment.

"I have total confidence I will find something," said Korus.

If the proposed bill does not pass in Congress, it will affect 99,000 long-term unemployed workers in Wisconsin.

President Obama said he will sign a bill that extends jobless benefits right away if Congress chooses to pass it.

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