By Kevin Smith, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Posted: 12/11/13, 8:14 PM PST | Updated: 45 mins ago

Few would argue that California’s economy has gained significant traction since the depths of the Great Recession.

Housing prices have seen double-digit gains, Wall Street has hit record highs and the state’s unemployment rate fell to 8.7 percent in October compared with 10.1 percent a year earlier.

All good news. But for California’s long-term unemployed, the story isn’t so upbeat. As of Monday, 1,244,200 Californians had fully exhausted all of their unemployment benefits, according to the state Employment Development Department.

And another wave is fast approaching.

The EDD recently notified another 222,000 unemployed Californians that their federal extension benefits are set to expire at the end of the year. If Congress and the president fail to renew the extensions, California and all other states can no longer pay the federal extension benefits for weeks ending after Dec. 28 — even if someone remains unemployed and has a remaining balance on their extension.

“We want to give people enough time so they can do some planning,” EDD spokeswoman Patti Roberts said last month. “We know that this can be a lifeline for some people, and that it really has an impact on people’s housing, food and all the other essentials of everyday life.”

Roberts stressed that the EDD is not controlling the situation.

“This is not our decision,” she said. “It’s a decision that comes from the federal government. It has happened the last couple of years and they usually reverse it at the end of the year … but we can never anticipate that it will happen that way.”

The largest share of residents whose benefits are on track to expire at the end of the year (53,865) live in Los Angeles County. Another 13,218 are in San Bernardino County and 13,925 live in Riverside County, the EDD reported.

Vincent Bussey is part of that next wave — and he can already feel it crashing.

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