Oregon Public Broadcasting

About 8000 Oregonians lose their extended unemployment benefits Friday.

While the state's unemployment rate is still high at 8.8 percent it's dropped just enough that the federal government won't pay for the extension any longer.

Kristian Foden-Vencil talked to people about to lose those checks and files this report.

While about 8000 people will lose their benefits this week, for every week afterwards, another 500 Oregonians come to the end of their benefits.

Employment Department spokesman, Craig Spivey, says the process of finding work can be tough.

Spivey said, "When people initially go on unemployment they are looking at jobs that are a little closer to what they've normally been taking and maybe their focus is a little more narrow. But the longer they're on unemployment the wider that search becomes."

The closer people come to the end of their benefits, the further a field they're willing to travel for work, the more likely they are to move, and the lower wages they're willing to accept.

Spivey said, "Each of our Work Source centers gets a list of people in their area about ready to exhaust their benefits. We reach out to them, we call them, we make contact with them to try to get them into a Work Source center where we can help them better one-on-one trying to find a job. Help them with resume writing, helping getting the extra training they may need. help them with their job search as well."

040612_unemployment_small.jpgKristian Foden-Vencil / OPBShelley Wertz

Across town in Southeast Portland, Shelley Wertz has been looking for a job for nine months now.

Wertz explained, "I'm 57. I grew up in Flint Michigan, the home of Michael Moore. when I was in my 20's back in the 1970's I worked for General Motors for eight years. I worked in retail. I have been a baker, a donut frier, a hotel cleaner a house cleaner. I worked in a cafeteria for a while."

She's currently getting what's known as "Emergency Unemployment Compensation." It's a different check from the 'Extended Benefits' that are expiring. But, she says, the Employment Department doesn't tell her how long her 'Emergency Unemployment Compensation' will last and the uncertainty is very stressful.

She told OPB, "It's very hard. You get discouraged. You get demoralized. I really have to struggle with not allowing myself to accept society's view that I am worthless and of no value to anybody for any reason."

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.