Local News

More than 3,000 in El Paso County could be without unemployment benefits

People receiving unemployment benefits prepare for the worst

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - More than 3,000 people in El Paso County could start the new year off without a job and unemployment benefits, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. 

Right now, a person who is laid off from their job can receive 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits followed by 28 weeks of federal unemployment. If congress doesn't approve an emergency unemployment compensation package by Saturday (12/28/13), those federal benefits will go away.

Glenn Fichter has been unemployed for more than a year. He receives benefits from the federal government.

"(It has been) stressful trying to stay in town and find a job," Fichter said.

Fichter was a semi-conductor test engineer, but his company laid him off. He has two degrees from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and he's having a hard time finding a job.

"Some companies have been hiring and others just not too often," Fichter said.

Fichter said he has support, if he doesn't receive unemployment benefits.

"You just try to get help from friends and family, (and) save what money you can in case there is a stretch of time before you can get your benefits check," Fichter said.

The White House issued a statement on Friday saying senators have put forward bipartisan legislation to extend emergency unemployment insurance for three months, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will bring it to vote when they are return from recess on January 6. Specific details about that potential three month extension are not currently available.

Terence Jackson works at the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, a place that helps people find jobs.

"We know now the bill that just went through (it had) nothing about employment. We won't really know anything until Congress comes back in January," Jackson said. 

But Jackson said he is prepared for this situation.

"We've been looking at all of our services, we offer here more one-on-one contact with customers here in the resource room. We also have a career development group," Jackson said.

Fichter said even if he doesn't receive his unemployment check, he's optimistic about the future.

"I am just trying to stay positive and do something positive every day," Fichter said.

More than 16,000 people are receiving unemployment benefits in Colorado. More than 1,300 of them are in Pueblo County.

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