Arizona running out of unemployment benefit money

By Fleur Magbanua-Mansur, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Mar 27 2010 11:41 AM | Updated as of Mar 27 2010 07:41 PM

CHANDLER, Arizona - The nation’s recession is deepening in Arizona. About one-tenth of existing jobs have been wiped out. With an unemployment rate of 9.2%, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council says Arizona is one of the worst states in the country in job creation.

Some Filipinos have been jobless for a long time. Nathan de la Cruz, an electronic technician, lost his job in 2008. He hasn’t found work yet and struggles to keep up with his monthly bills.

“Itong sa mortgage, nale-late akong magbayad, pati sa pag-aaral ng mga bata, finances kapos din,” de la Cruz said.

De la Cruz says he had to modify not only his mortgage, but his family’s lifestyle as well.

“Di na kami kumakain sa labas ng madalas, bibili na lang at maggo-grocery, sa bahay nagluluto,” he said.

Because of his financial problems, de la Cruz hasn’t been able to send money to his loved in ones in the Philippines.

De la Cruz says, “Bumalik sa normal, makapagtrabahong muli, para mapadalan ko naman, mabigyan ko yung mga taong umaasa sa akin.”

Another Fil-Am has been unemployed since September 2009. Grace Collins has been collecting unemployment checks but she says they’re not enough to make ends meet, so she was forced to take odd jobs to help pay the bills, “Like cleaning somebody’s house, cleaning somebody’s yard, cooking for somebody’s party and get paid for it,” Collins said.

Like de la Cruz, Collins says she had a lifestyle change. “I used to go to regular store and spend $5, now I just have to spend 99 cents on every item that I need because I don’t have enough money.”

Collins says the government is her only hope for another job. “The government would play their part and bring back those jobs so that people won’t suffer and will have a job,” Collins said.

But Arizona officials are addressing another problem: the state trust fund that pays for jobless benefits is running dry. To continue paying unemployment benefits to people like Collins, the Arizona Department of Economic Security says it had to borrow $250 million from the federal government until unemployment subsidies. Balitang America