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Valley's unemployed could benefit from bill

March 10, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Residents here who have exhausted 26 weeks of unemployment benefits could be eligible to receive checks for 13 more weeks.

President George Bush vowed to sign an economic stimulus bill this week that includes the extension.

The bill was approved by the Senate on Friday and the House on Thursday. It was supported by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, in the House and California's delegation in the Senate.

In addition to the benefits extension, the bill contains some tax breaks for businesses.

Calexicans who think they are eligible for the benefits extension can call hotlines set up by the state Employment Development Department. English speakers can call 1-800-300-5616; Spanish speakers, 1-800-326-8937.


While an EDD staffer at an Oakland call center said specific information on who is eligible won't be available for some weeks, she recommended that anyone who has moved recently should call the hotlines to make sure EDD has the new address on file.

The staffer, an EDD employee for 27 years, said in the past the department has sent out postcard notices to those eligible for benefits extensions. If EDD doesn't have the address of those eligible it can't send that person an postcard.

Those who call should be forewarned, though.

The Oakland call center has been swamped with calls since the president announced he would sign the bill. Callers should expect an 8- to 10-minute hold time.

Those who hang on the line will be told by an EDD staffer that after the president signs the bill, "The Department of Labor has to write up the rules and give them to each state."

Some unemployed workers in certain states could be given an extra 13-week extension beyond the first 13-week extension.

The staffer contacted Friday said states with "high unemployment rates" will qualify for the extra 13 weeks.

She doesn't know if California will qualify because the Department of Labor has not yet settled on which set of qualifications it will use to determine which states have high unemployment.

She did say, "We're pretty well up there. We had the problem with the bottom falling out of the dot-coms."

Complicating matters though, she said, "There's 14 different ways to calculate that percentage — there's probably 27 different ways."

More information will be made available once the Department of Labor makes its ruling and disseminates that information to all 50 states.

Until then, unemployed workers should make sure the EDD has their correct mailing address.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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