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New Bump In The Road For NJ’s Long-Term Unemployed [AUDIO]

One hundred twenty thousand Garden State residents, currently collecting federal unemployment insurance benefits, could be cut off at the end of next month because the federal U-I extension program is set to expire December 31st.State Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths says state officials are powerless to do anything.

“It’s completely a federal program – it’s out of the Governor’s hands and the Legislature’s hands. The last time they were set to expire, they were re-negotiated July 7th, 2012, and extended till the end of the year. So Congress and the President are the only ones who can take any action on the extended benefits.”

So, will that happen?

Wirths says, “Some people think there’s a chance, I don’t know, it’s probably 50-50 that something might happen with the extension of benefits, but you don’t want to build up any false hopes because nothing could happen.”

His advice for unemployed residents is not to worry about what may take place, but instead, register on

“The best thing we can do is help these people get back to work and right now,” says Wirths. “I have 126 thousand job openings on – in the state of New Jersey – and within a 50 mile radius we’re up to 361 thousand job openings…We have a new software that will write a resume, you can post your resume, it’ll email you job opportunities, or if you’re an employer, you can actually post jobs -actually FEMA posted 91 job openings on our website…The other thing we’re excited about is we’ve started the Jersey Job Clubs- in 23 locations right now…We have 6 thousand members and that really sharpens your skills, brings in experts on resume writing, the best interviewing techniques, helps networking builds up morale…the Jersey Jobs Club develops individuals job search skills, through a variety of workshops- it uses social networking, teaches people how to properly be prepared for interviews.”

Wirths adds, “There also 34 One Stop Career Centers, spread throughout the state from Sussex County to Cape May, where people can come in and look at our training opportunities, and get counseling. We try to steer people into real-time jobs, so that they’re not just training for jobs that are going away or don’t exist. We’re using all of the technology and the data we have at the Department of Labor to make sure that people are training and preparing for the jobs that are going to be there in the future.”

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