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Dozens of El Pasoans lose unemployment benefits every week

By: Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas -- The number of unemployed workers in El Paso without emergency benefits has increased slightly as Congress delays their decision to extend the program.

This is because dozens of unemployed workers fall off the emergency unemployment benefits roll every week.

According to Workforce Solutions, there are now at least 3,000 unemployed workers in the Borderland who have lost their emergency unemployment benefits.

That figure is up from the average of 2,500 unemployed workers who lost their benefits immediately after Congress decided not to extend them.

For the last two weeks, El Pasoan Silvia De La Riva has been unemployed and without emergency benefits.

De La Riva said she is eligible to receive $191 a week, but for now that is something she has to do without.

"It's a lot of pressure, because I don't have an income and I still have to pay my bills and my rent," De La Riva said.

Lorenzo Reyes, executive director at Workforce Solutions, said the rise in people losing unemployment benefits hits the Borderland especially hard.

"It's going to increase in our area and it's a significant concern because of the unemployment in our area," Reyes said.

At Workforce Solutions, the employment agency has seen an additional 2,000 people come through seeking work in recent weeks.

"On the positive side, though, is that the local economy will continue to create jobs," Reyes said. "We are tailoring some of the workshops specifically for the industries the job-seekers will be looking for."

De La Riva said although she would like to receive emergency benefits, a job offer would be even better.

"Productive people usually have a happy life," De La Riva said. "I like to be productive and I have to keep trying."

Nationwide, there are now 2 million unemployed workers without emergency benefits.

Analysts said restoring the program could cost about $15 billion.

Congress is expected to make a decision soon, which could be as early as next week.