State readies unemployment checks in case Congress extends benefits

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - State officials are preparing unemployment checks so they're ready if congress votes to extend benefits next week. The Department of Employment and Workforce expects to have the checks available for most people in the next weekly cycle. 
Lawmakers have been battling for weeks over extending unemployment benefits. The last extension ran out at the end of May, leaving about 2.5 million people without benefits.

With the death of Sen. Robert Byrd, Senate Democrats didn't have the 60 votes they need to overcome a GOP filibuster. President Barack Obama says Senate Republicans are playing politics with America's recovery. The Senate plans to take up the measure again on Tuesday.

Those benefits may no longer  be coming in the form of a check. The Employment and Workforce Department said benefits could soon come on a prepaid debit card or as an electronic transfer to a bank.

By eliminating the paper checks, the agency hopes to save recipients and the state money. An estimated $4 million a year could be saved.

The good news is that more people are getting back to work in South Carolina. Jobless numbers dropped half a percentage point in June to 10.5 percent, as opposed to 11 percent in May.

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.