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More than 2,500 El Pasoans are set to lose unemployment benefits
By Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas - Congress has made the decision not to renew the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program for another year.
The decision impacts 2,573 people in El Paso and 64,000 people in Texas who will lose their unemployment benefits.
In New Mexico, at least 6,000 people will lose their coverage by the year's end.
If an action isn't taken to extend the program sometime next year, an additional 106,900 people in Texas could lose their benefits within the first six months of 2014.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers said not extending the program could cost the state of Texas 11,766 jobs.
Thirty-four-year old Clayton Ham is among the more than 2,500 people in the Borderland who will be losing their benefits this week.
"I've been forced into these benefits and now they're going to cancel the benefits," Ham said. "I just think it's wrong."
Ham was laid off in April after working for a private contractor at Fort Bliss for four and half years.
"I've been unemployed for eight months now and I haven't had one interview," Ham said. "I had heard stories about people being unemployed for a long time. I thought that's what I was headed towards. It's been a lot harder than I thought though."
Ham said he needs those benefits to get by.
"I need them to pay for groceries, food, my bills, power and rent," Ham said.
But Ham said more than anything he just wants to get back to work.
"I'm leaning on my dad, but I'm 34 years old," said Ham. "I just keep applying and don't give up."
Senate Democrats will come back in early January to try to renew the benefits program for next year.
The program could cost more than $25 billion to extend.