>Unemployment the holiday Grinch in November -- And the good news? Unemployment benefits for some Oregonians will be extended under a federal program

   Unemployment the holiday Grinch in November
   The Christmas season hasn't been very good for the local job market, Crook County's unemployment rate soared last month as did the rest of the state's rate of people out of work.
   The local unemployment rate of 10.6 percent was a jump of 3 percentage points from October's 7.6 percent. and a full 3 percent higher than the rate in November a year ago. The closure of Ochoco Lumber and Crown Pacific are taking the biggest share of blame for the increase. Two-hundred jobs were lost in the shut down of those two mills.
   Jefferson County's 1.8 percent increase, bringing the rate of unemployment to 6.9 percent, was the lowest unemployment rate in the region, followed by Deschutes County at 7.3 percent. Crook County's 10.6 percent was the highest rate, only barely ahead of Lake County's 9.3 percent.
   Statewide, the unemployment rate for November was 7.4 percent, up from the 4.4 percent of the same month in 2000. The national picture was not quite so drastic, 5.7 percent for November, 2001, up from 4 percent November, the previous year.
   And the good news?
   Unemployment benefits for some Oregonians will be extended under a federal program
   The US Department of Labor has announced that Oregon will enter an extended benefit period effective Jan. 6. This will allow eligible Oregonians to receive up to 13 weeks of additional unemployment benefits. The first week that extended unemployment benefit payments will be issued is the week ending Jan 12.
   To qualify for extended benefits, an individual's unemployment insurance claim must have been filed after Jan. 14, 2001.
   The Employment Department estimates 15,000 Oregonians will file an application during the first week of extended benefits. Extended benefits payments will be equal to the weekly benefit amount of an individual's regular claim.
   The eligibility requirements under extended benefits are more stringent than those for regular benefits. An individual receiving extended unemployment benefits must submit tangible evidence of their work search each week, and must be willing to accept any work that pays the equivalent of either minimum wage or their weekly benefit amount, whichever is greater.
   During this time of heavy unemployment claims, the Employment Department requests that Oregonians not call their local field office with questions about extended benefits.
   The Employment Department will mail a notification and application on or about Jan. 4, to anyone who potentially qualifies for extended benefits. Anyone receiving this application form should complete it and bring it to the nearest Employment Department field office as soon as possible.
   According to the Department of Labor, the last time Oregon paid extended benefits was in February 1994.
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