LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Starting at midnight Wednesday, a steady stream of income runs out for nearly 2 million Americans. They'll lose their jobless benefits.
Thousands in Southwest Florida depend on that unemployment check to get by. We've talked to people who say they've been on the job hunt for a year, even 2 years. They say they've done all they can.
Others have no sympathy for the long-term unemployed, saying they should be able to find work within a week.
But according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the economy isn't growing fast enough to even make a dent in unemployment. He said the economy needs growth of 2% to 2.5% just to create enough jobs to accommodate new people looking for work.
It's a frightening thought for those losing benefits, desperate for a paycheck and work.
"Oh, I tried Burger King, McDonalds, Publix, and Sweetbay," Hector Vallavares of Lehigh Acres said. "They all want the young guys."
"Hopefully, I can get back to work soon," Tim Tew of Fort Myers said. "But I've been saying that for 2 years, you know."
Unemployment benefits used to run for 26 weeks. But during the recession, Congress extended benefits several times. Because of that, some received checks for about two years.