Job seekers in Somerset feel loss of unemployment benefits after congressional cuts

New Jersey's unemployment rate is dropping, but it still lags behind the rest of the country. (2/18/14)

SOMERSET - New Jersey's unemployment rate is dropping, but it still lags behind the rest of the country.

Congress has cut extended unemployment benefits, which puts the pressure on those looking for work.

Adam Lazofsky, who has spent the last year looking for a job, attended a job fair in Somerset Tuesday. "Nobody is looking for a free ride. Everybody is looking to get back into the workforce," he says.

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Now that Congress has stopped offering extended unemployment benefits, those out of work as long as him can no longer get the assistance they need to pay rent, feed their families or even get to job fairs like this one in Somerset.

The job fair was put together with the help of Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, who says it’s important that Congress remember cuts alone won't help people get back to work.

"By taking away one of the things that allows them to continue to put food on the table, whether it’s food stamps or extended unemployment, takes a toll not only on the individual but on the family he or she is supporting,” he says.

According to Lazofsky, the good news is things are starting to loosen up. He says he has been to more job interviews in the last month than in the previous five months. With so much competition out there, vendors at the fair say you shouldn't let the search for a perfect job keep you from getting a good one.

"You have to be a lot more open-minded about how to approach a job search and what to expect from a job these days," says consultant Keith Whelan.

As of December, New Jersey's unemployment rate is down to 7.3 percent.

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