Congress Ends Federal Unemployment

It looks like time is running out for East Texans collecting federal unemployment.

Later this month, the federal government will stop providing temporary aid to Americans who've maxed out their unemployment benefits. In March, the federal government granted 13 additional weeks of compensation to unemployed citizens. Texas residents usually get 26 weeks total.

But 50,000 Texans relying on the extra benefits are about to lose them. U.S. Congress failed to pass another benefit extension during their legislative session.

Maryann Souer of Tyler has been job hunting for more than a year. She has 23 years professional experience in banking, but now spends her days inside the East Texas Work Force Center searching databases for a job.

"You want to be able to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving with your family," says Souer, "But in the back of your head, you know there's no income coming."

And with the federal government no longer in the picture, 500 people in East Texans will soon be back to square one. Souer can sympathize, while she's not collecting unemployment, she's been there before.

"Those people that are getting benefits are not going to have anything," she says. "And there's hundreds of people out there who are not drawing unemployment who are looking for work as well."

The competition is not the only thing slowing down job hunters. During the holiday season, many employers stop hiring.

"They're faced with a lot of different problems because of the timing," says Stephen Lynch, the site supervisor for the East Texas Work Force Center. "If they're laid of this time of year, the job market is very restricted."

Lynch says taking a seasonal job is one way job seekers can supplement their income through the tough holiday season.

Kerri Panchuk, reporting.