First at five, December 23, 2008
AIKEN, S.C.---Roughly 70,000 people could lose their income, because unemployment benefits may soon run out in South Carolina. Now some lawmakers are upset the governor won't take action.
Rachael Johnson takes a trip to the unemployment office every week, in order to collect benefits. She's been doing it since July, when she got laid off.
"I do have two kids to support and...I do have a house and everything like that so it was kind of scary," said Johnson.
She says it's been difficult to live without a job but still see the price of some things rise. Without those benefits, she's not sure what she would do.
"A lot of people are getting laid off and and people need that little bit of extra money just to support their families," said Johnson.
That unemployment money may soon dry up in South Carolina. There's only enough left to support people until the end of December. If nothing is done, the state will not write any more unemployment checks, leaving roughly 70,000 people with a terrible new year.
"If it's not there, there's probably going to be a lot of families that will probably go homeless," Johnson said.
The state's unemployment agency Executive Director, Ted Halley, says for about seven years the state's been paying out more than it's been taking in because of the unemployment rate. Right now it's the highest it's been in 25 years, at about 8.4 percent.
"The jobs aren't there like they're supposed to be. Everybody's picking up their businesses and moving them over to other countries," Johnson says.
Some lawmakers say Governor Mark Sanford needs to step up to help people in this crisis. They want him to get a loan from the federal government to save the unemployment fund, but Sanford doesn't want to, quite yet.
Johnson says he must not understand the position she's in.
"Walk in our shoes for six months," she says.
Governor Sanford says he wants an audit of the company that assesses the state's unemployment rate, but Halley says that's not possible by January 1st.
At least four other states are in similar situations, with only enough unemployment money for three months or less.