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Sequester cuts get real for unemployed Americans

The sequester will mean cuts to the unemployment checks people depend on to pay bills.

One reason House Republicans might not feel a sense of urgency about budget cuts that start today? They're kind of abstract. No set timeline. No clear definition of who gets hit.

So you can kind of understand that, right?

Richard Crowe most definitely does not. He's a steelworker -- or, he was, until he was laid off nine months ago. He's collected unemployment since. And federal unemployment is one of the programs being cut because of the budget cuts.

Crowe isn't quite sure what will happen come Monday, or in the following weeks. His check is expected to get smaller by about 10 percent. That's cutting a good $76 out of the $764 he receives from unemployment every two weeks. "It isn't enough to begin with, and then you're losing money on top of it. It ain't good.  I struggle to pay bills now."

His wife works, but doesn't make a living wage. His Plan B? Crowe continues his job search. He says he's applied for over 200 at this point, but hasn't had much luck.

Crowe says he's not happy with Congressmembers from either party. "I worked my whole life. I don't want to be on unemployment. But I don't think the 535 people, any of them care about you."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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