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Unemployed running out of benefits, opportunities

A recent survey of Washington workers who failed to find work before running out of unemployment benefits revealed that many are still out of work.

In April, the state's Employment Security Department emailed a survey to 31,744 individuals who had run out of unemployment benefits since November 2009, and 5,065 responded.

Of the 6 percent who responded to the survey, about three-fourths were still unemployed despite having access to as many as 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.

The employment department sought to find out if those who have used up their benefits have returned to work, the employment services they're using and the barriers they're running into while looking for new jobs.

Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause said the survey findings shed valuable insight on what is happening to workers who run out of unemployment benefits.

"We know there aren't enough jobs to go around right now, but there may be additional factors that keep employers from hiring these workers," said Trause.

The survey was conducted in support of the Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board's "Retooling Washington" initiative.

State and local partners in the state's workforce-development system are identifying ways to help get the unemployed back to work faster.

Other survey results indicated that:

· 80 percent of those back at work are earning less than in their former jobs - on average, about 29 percent less.

· Of those who returned to work, about 19 percent found jobs out of state.

· Nearly half said age is the toughest barrier to overcome in their effort to get back to work, while more than one-quarter pointed to the sluggish economy as a factor in their inability to find work.

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