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Recession Drags On For Many Cut From Jobs And Unemployment Benefits
4/16/2014 3:09:33 PM

Rev. McKinley Washington
By Barney Blakeney

For many unemployed in the state like Maurice Carter being unemployed and denied unemployment benefits makes the deeply rooted economic recession even more unbearable.

In a recent email, Carter underscored that there are thousands of residents who have been terminated or laid off from their jobs over the past few years. Some employers, hit by the recession themselves, use flimsy reasons to let staff go - unsatisfactory performance and insubordination are common among them, he said.

And as the proverbial saying goes, stuff rolls down hill. So when many of those unemployed workers seek assistance from the state’s Employment Security Commission, they meet an unwelcome response and are denied benefits.

“They had unemployment compensation insurance deducted from their pay checks when they were employed and didn’t just quit. They were terminated. They’re out looking for work every week, but because of the economy can’t find any. It takes months to get an appeal if benefits are denied. In the meantime they endure financial hardship with no money for food or utilities. Some lose their homes. And while they’re left out in the dark, the state has this nonchalant attitude. It’s inhumane,” Carter says.

The public shouldn’t expect a lot of help from assistance agencies. Funding to such agencies has been declining over several years and that likely will continue.

There aren’t enough safety nets to help everyone who needs them, said one local assistance official. Many people will have to fall back on family and other personal support systems. And they may have to take jobs that are below their skill level and previous pay. They’re going to have to tread water until the tide comes back in, he said.

Since December 2012 some 29,000 South Carolinians exhausted their federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. In a previous interview former Employment Security Commission Chairman Rev. McKinley Washington said, “People have got to eat, pay mortgages and other things. At the same time they have no job, no unemployment benefits and no food stamps. They’re not getting any assistance.”

As more of the state’s residents continue to face joblessness, Washington predicted terminated unemployment benefits combined with cuts in federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) will have a devastating impact on those who need the assistance.

S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce Director of Information Services’ Adrienne Fairwell encourages claimants to use all the free resources available through that agency to help them find jobs. Among those services are resume writing, interviewing skills, job coaching and skills assessment. According to recent economic reports South Carolina’s job market is strengthening. Currently the state’s unemployment rate is about seven percent.

But that’s no consolation for workers who have experienced long term unemployment, says Carter.

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