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40,000 in Wisconsin losing unemployment benefits at end of Dec.

EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - More than a third of those getting unemployment benefits will be cut off at the end of Dec.

That's when federal funding will expire, ending assistance for anyone who's been getting it for more than 26 weeks, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development spokesman John Dipko.

Nearly one year after losing his job at the Pactiv plant in Chippewa falls, William Hawke said he spends most of his days searching for job openings.

"Some people think you should have found a job in a year, but it isn't that easy anymore, like it used to be," Hawke said. "I looked for factory work for a while and then I decided to give up on that and try looking for something else."

With no luck, Hawke has been getting $290 a week in unemployment benefits. But he along with 40,000 others in Wisconsin who have had benefits longer than 26 weeks will no longer see that assistance, when the federal government's funding ends, the week of Dec. 29.

"They're cutting back everywhere, but I still disagree. I don't agree with it," he said. "I can't pay my bills, that's number one, it helped a lot."

With more people looking for help, staff at the Eau Claire County Job Center and the Western Dairyland Community Action Agency said they expect to be busy.

"We're looking at a lot more phone calls and people asking for help for a variety of different things," Dale Karls of Western Dairyland said. "If you're talking about $360 a week that for some families could be the difference between having a home and being homeless."

"It will probably mean a lot more people will stop by. There will be a push for people to find jobs. Hopefully we can help them and I hope the economy grows enough that there will be jobs available," Job Service District Director Steve Blodgett said.

"Don't wait until you lose those benefits. Start planning right now and try to come up with a plan to help you in the future," Karls said.


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