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Jobless Worry About State’s Stance On Unemployment Benefits

The Department of Workforce Development announced yesterday it would suspend unemployment benefits, then reversed that decision later in the day.

The federal government Friday intervened when the Indiana Department of Workforce Development said it planned to withhold unemployment benefits from citizens who have been unemployed for between 26 and 63 weeks.

But that is doing little to ease the fears of people like Mark Smock, who have recently been laid off.

Until a few weeks ago, Smock worked in Baxter pharmaceutical’s packing division, putting syringes and medicine in boxes sent worldwide. Now he is unemployed, but he says he is more worried about friends of his who have been without a job longer than he has.

“I have some friends that have been, and some other people that are getting on the verge, and they are going to be touched,” he says. “But like I say, some of them do have some of their tax check back or some other things, but that is only going to go so far.”

Department of Workforce Development spokesman Joe Frank says his department felt like it had little choice but to cut benefits before federal officials stepped in.

State and federal leaders will meet Friday to discuss how Indiana should proceed if the sequester begins shrinking jobless checks.

Aaricka Washington contributed to this report.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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