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Hits Keep Coming For Unemployed in Florida

For people who are out of work in Florida, the hits just keep on coming.

75,000 jobless workers in the state are set to lose unemployment benefits in about two weeks unless Congress acts.
   
A budget deal proposal on Capitol Hill failed to extend the federal program that helps the long-term unemployed who have run out of state benefits.

On top of that, Florida's new computer system for filing unemployment claims continues to have problems.

We spoke with folks who are unemployed at Workforce Escarosa in Pace. They say the situation is just getting tougher.

"I just feel totally down all the time," said Ron Vega, "Just...Why can't I find something?"
   
Frustration and sadness are two feelings Vega and Denise Whitaker, two perfect strangers, have in common.

"A lot of times I just feel depressed," Whitaker said, "Because I've always worked since I was 15 years-old."
   
The two are like many others who show up at similar facilities throughout Florida.

"Trying to hold on to as much I can you know," Vega said, "Just spending enough to pay my bills."

Vega's been out of work for just a few weeks, but Whitaker has been unemployed for more than a year. She's one of the 75,000 people in Florida whose federal benefits are set to run out on December 28.

"I don't know what we'll do," Whitaker said, "My husband is not working. He's unable to work."
   
Whitaker says she's been clipping coupons to help pay for toiletries and other necessities. Without the coupons, she fears she would not be able to survive.

"If I heard the word 'glitch' one more time," Whitaker said, "Oh, my goodness, glitch was not a word I wanted to hear ever again."   
   
Whitaker says the state's new unemployment computer system has improved, but that it was a nightmare to deal with after it was first rolled out two months ago.

"It took me three weeks, almost a month, to get my check after I filed," Whitaker said.

Authorities say many of the glitches have been fixed but there are still reports of problems.

Deloitte, the contractor responsible for the new unemployment system, must resolve most technical issues by Friday or the state will start fining the company $15,000 a day.