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Unemployment Jumps As Benefits Set To Expire For Some

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Unemployment Protest

Dave Chrzanowski, an unemployed union electrician, joins a protest calling for an extension to unemployment benefits and continued funding of job programs on Dec. 3, 2010 in Chicago. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Unemployment hit an unexpected jump in November, hitting 9.8 percent nationwide, the highest it’s been in seven months. The numbers weren’t much better in Chicago, where unemployment was at 9.7 percent.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports that unemployment has been a double blow for some families, who learned this week that their unemployment benefits are about to run out.

“It is emotionally difficult to deal with,” Larry Rotheiser said.

His emotional challenges started a year ago he went from bringing home $8,000 a month in automotive sales to under $2,000 a month on unemployment.

Next month, his family contribution could drop to zero if his federal unemployment benefits aren’t extended.

“Christmas is coming up. The kids know it’s not going to be the same,” Rotheiser said. “Things get tougher and tougher; then you’re tapping into your retirement funds and your savings and college funds.”

Protesters who gathered downtown Friday echoed Rotheiser’s frustrations over trying to find a job and worries about unemployment benefits running out.

They called on Congress to extend unemployment benefits which are set to expire this weekend.

“We found out this morning that unemployment actually went up last month, that basically no jobs were created and yet Congress is allowing unemployment benefits to expire for people who have been unemployed for less than a year,” protester Susan Hurley said. “On average, it takes people a minimum of six months to find a new job in this economy, so there are a lot of people that are not able to find work. They’re getting cut off of benefits going into the holiday season.”

“They’re gonna end up hungry and homeless. They can’t buy gifts for the kids and it’s just a horrible situation and we need immediate action to extend unemployment benefits,” she added.

Rotheiser agreed that unemployment benefits should be extended.

“This money that they’re giving is not being put away into people’s savings, it is going back into the economy,” he said. “For a lot of people, that’s their only means to eat, to pay for transportation, to go look for work, to stay in their homes.”

LISTEN: WBBM 780’s Mike Krauser reports.

Electrician Dave Pruzinowsky said, “There’s just not really a whole lot of hope out there.”

Academic Lorraine Chavez said “I was laid off, because of the economy, for the first time ever in my entire life.”

Anthony Scorzo, another out-of-work electrician, had the humbling experience of moving back home.

“It definitely is humbling. I’m very glad that they were there for me, but some people aren’t as lucky as me. Some people have kids.”

Chavez is one of those people and she said she’s tired of hearing that she’s over-qualified for jobs she’s been trying to get. She has two kids in college, has lost her benefits, and her brothers-in-law are in the same boat.

“It is a family tsunami. We are all professionals. We have graduate degrees. We have been in the same professions for twenty years. We are actually at the top of our fields,” Chavez said.

What it says to her is that “the entire structure of the American Dream and promise has completely disintegrated.”

The weak jobs report served as a reminder that the recovery is proceeding fitfully. Economists say it will take up to 300,000 new jobs a month to reduce the unemployment rate significantly.

“The U.S. may have to face the fact that unemployment is going to be high for a long time,” said Drew Matus, a senior economist at UBS. “There are people who need to be retrained for new jobs and that will take time.”

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