Unemployment benefits: Extension won't help '99ers'

Unemployment benefits in Nevada, which leads the US in unemployment, won't be extended for those at are near the 99-week cutoff for benefits.

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    In this photo taken Sept. 1, unemployed women wait their turns to use computer terminals to search for jobs at the Nevada JobConnect Career Center in Las Vegas. Nevada on Tuesday confirmed that a federal extension of unemployment benefits would not help those who have exhausted or nearly exhausted their benefits.
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A compromise between the White House and congressional Republicans to extend unemployment benefits won't help Nevadans nearing the end of their 99 weeks of eligibility, a state official said Tuesday.

Cindy Jones, administrator for the Nevada Employment Security Division, said the extension would only continue the 99 weeks of eligibility for another year, not extend benefits to those who have reached that threshold. Her assessment was confirmed by Nevada congressional staffers in Washington, D.C.

In Nevada, which leads the nation in joblessness, bankruptcies and foreclosures, more than 26,800 people have already exhausted their eligibility, Jones said. She did not have an immediate estimate on how many people are nearing the end of their benefits. About 109,000 people in Nevada collect unemployment.

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President Barack Obama on Monday said he agreed to the deal, which also extend Bush-era tax cuts for two years for all Americans, because prolonging the political fight would have further weakened the economy and increased taxes for everyone.

One Nevada advocate for the poor said it is an "outrage" to give tax breaks to the "millionaires and billionaires" while limiting benefits for people who are out of work because of no fault of their own.

"For working families listening to the news and thinking they're going to get something, they're not," said Jan Gilbert, northern Nevada coordinator for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

"It seems to me we could have done a better job here," she said. "I think it's so unfortunate that that's the way business in done."

The tentative pact must still be approved by Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the deal is not done and more work is needed.

"Sen. Reid is looking over the president's framework proposal and working with his caucus to ensure it offers the best way forward to protect Nevada's middle class families, small businesses and the unemployed," Reid spokesman Tom Brede said in an e-mail.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., earlier introduced a measure in the House of Representatives, the so-called "99er bill," to provide an additional 20 weeks assistance to people who have exhausted their unemployment insurance and live in states like Nevada with elevated jobless rates. Reid co-sponsored a similar bill in the Senate, though neither have advanced.

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