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State House Rejects Unemployment Dollars

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Federal money offered to Wyoming for unemployment benefits will go to other states. The Wyoming House rejected a plan to use 38-million dollars in federal funding to extend benefits to those experiencing long-term unemployment, and to keep benefits in place for those in re-training programs.

Many of those testifying said they didn’t think unemployed people were looking hard enough to find jobs. Kim Floyd with the Wyoming State AFL-CIO says missing in the debate was the fact that there are more workers than jobs in many sectors, especially the construction industry.

“The economy has just kind of flat-lined here in the State of Wyoming, and we’re running about 22-percent unemployment in the construction industry.”

Additional federal money would have expanded eligibility calculations and continued benefits for folks enrolled in state-approved job training programs. Floyd, who used to be a dislocated worker coordinator for the state, says turning down that training-related funding is a missed opportunity.

“And from my experience, it was the single most important thing that workers had that could keep them in that training program, so they could finish it and move on.”

The Wyoming Department of Employment estimates the state lost more than 15-thousand jobs during the recession. Twenty-four million of the federal money would have gone to about 56-hundred Wyomingites for 13 weeks – each receiving less than 330-dollars a week.

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