Some help to navigate unemployment waters

ctruman@herald-leader.comJanuary 20, 2013 

20090311 Job fishing

300 dpi Chris Ware color illustration of jobseekers in fishing boat casting their lines baited with signs for "Help Now!" to the colorful career fish below. Lexington Herald-Leader 2009

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WARE — MCT

Kentucky's unemployment numbers are on the decline from last year, but plenty of Kentuckians are still feeling the effects of the lengthy recession.

In December 2010, the number of unemployed people receiving benefits was 111,512; for December 2011, it was 93,633; and December 2012, 68,198, according to the state office of employment and training.

Kentucky's unemployment rate for December was 8.2 percent, which put it among the middle cluster of states. Nevada, at 10.8 percent, led the nation in unemployment; North Dakota, at 3.1 percent, had the lowest rate.

What should you know if you're one of those who is unemployed?

Here's a tool kit of information for Kentucky's unemployed, with information from the Office of Employment and Training and the Kentucky Housing Corp:Are there new programs this year for Kentucky unemployed? The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program was further extended through 2013. This program provides an additional 37 weeks of benefits to those unemployed individuals who have exhausted their regular unemployment insurance benefits.

Learn more at Kewes.ky.gov or 1-877-369-5984.

How many Kentuckians are considered "discouraged" workers who have run out of unemployment benefits and still not found a job? The state Office of Employment and Training says that the term "discouraged workers" has gained currency because the recession was prolonged and during the recovery employment grew very slowly.

Nonetheless, the office contends there are no reliable numbers for the number of discouraged workers in Kentucky. Nationally, the number of discouraged workers for December 2012 was 1,068,000, compared to 945,000 for December 2011. The civilian labor force for December 2012 was 154,904,000.

By definition, discouraged workers are those who did not actively look for work in the prior four weeks of the current population survey for reasons such as they think no work is available, could not find work, lack schooling or training, or face some type of discrimination.

If you are unemployed and falling behind in mortgage payments, will you lose your house? Not necessarily. Help is available.

The Kentucky Housing Corp.'s housing bridge program still has $78.5 million to offer those who are unemployed because of the economic downturn. The program has helped maintain 2,813 loans since it began in April 2011 with $149.8 million in funding.

There is no fee to apply and get the paperwork started. The housing corporation urges unemployed individuals with mortgages to start the application process as soon as they find out they are going to be laid off."

The website also includes a link to the mortgage servicing companies that participate. If your mortgage r is not included, tell the Kentucky House Corp., and a counselor will contact the company and try to get it to participate in the program.

The program provides as much as $25,000 in assistance; up to $12,500 of that amount can cover loan delinquency.

The program is not for job or income loss due to divorce, death or disability. Renters are not eligible for assistance through this program. The job loss or reduction on employment income must have occurred within the three-year period before applying.

To learn more, visit Kyhousing.org or call 1-866-830-7868.

Those who are late on their mortgage payments but are still employed or facing other financial issues should contact Protect My Kentucky Home at Kyhousing.org/protect or by calling 1-866-830-7868.

Those facing foreclosure for reasons other than unemployment should contact the home ownership center, said Charla Jackson Peter of the housing corporation, "whether it's a loan modification, or to help them with a short sale."

A short sale is when a home is sold for less than is owed on the mortgage loan used to purchase it.

Cheryl Truman: (859)231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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