AMARILLO - 500 people in the Panhandle lost their extended unemployment benefits this weekend and hundreds more will lose coverage next year unless Congress acts.
Right now more than 300 people in Potter and Randall counties alone are no longer receiving unemployment benefits and that number is likely to double next year.
6.4 percent of Texans remain unemployed. That's just under the national average of 7 percent. Now 64,294 of those job-seekers are no longer receiving unemployment benefits. 500 of those folks live in the 26 counties inside NewsChannel 10's viewing area.
Just South, where the Cargill beef-processing plant shut down earlier this year, 647 Hale county residents are now without a monthly check. Thousands more people across the state will lose benefits in the first six months of 2014 if Congress does not extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program that was created in 2008 just after the start of the recession.
President Obama and most Democrats support another extension of the benefits, but most Republicans do not unless budget cuts can be made elsewhere. Many Democrats believe not funding the program could actually kill jobs and hurt the economy.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates it would cost 19 billion dollars to extend the program the rest of 2014.