BRYAN, TEXAS — In May, Governor Abbott informed the U.S. Department of Labor that Texas would opt-out of further federal unemployment compensation related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though the cut-off date is quickly approaching, resources are aplenty in the Brazos Valley.
June 26 is right around the corner and the added $300 weekly benefit for Texans on unemployment, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will come to a screeching halt by the end of this week.
"Right now, on top of people's unemployment benefits, they are receiving enhanced benefits. That's that additional $300. The state has decided that we won't be accepting that any longer. June 26 is the official date... but that [extra $300] is going to be ending," Nathaniel Muri, Business Services Manager with Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley shared with 25 News.
Muir says the enhanced benefits have made a difference for some with returning to work... but not all.
"We are already starting to see an uptick. In the past 2-3 weeks, we have seen more people coming in. Even though it hasn't always been specifically mentioned, I'm sure that the enhanced benefits going away has played into that. I think for some people though, it's not the end all be all... because there's also childcare. There's is just a general uncertainty with going out into the world. It looks like we've gone through it, it looks like we are out on the other end of this," Muir added.
"We are not asking each and every person if that's the case (whether or not, they are coming in as a direct result of the extra weekly benefit ending this week) and to be transparent, I honestly haven't heard a lot of people state that as the fact... with that being said, I don't think it's a coincidence that right after the announcement was made, almost the next day, we started seeing the uptick," Muir added.
Muir says there's no denying the extra $300 has made a difference for so many and with the extra funds disappearing, Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley wants people to know they are still here to support.
"If you are not ready to work right now, we can appreciate that. Eventually, you do have to make that decision, you do have to pull the trigger and you do have to go back to work, but we can appreciate the fact that right now, people are a little apprehensive and we would like them to come to the workforce, to talk to us and let us know what they are feeling, and we will let them know what we have to offer and hopefully along the way, we can help someone find a job," Muir added.
Deputy Director of Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley, Dora Lopez says, people who have lost employment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, are eligible to take advantage of their dislocated worker services.
"They can actually access a pipeline of other services such as tuition, books, childcare services that we can pay for, that they do not have to pay us back and they can skill up. They can get additional training to find better employment than they had previously and can earn a higher salary," Lopez shared.
Lopez says they offer a plethora of services all under one roof.
"We do have housing services available. There are grants that were made available for rental and utility assistance for up to 6 months, so they do have other resources they can connect to, while they are going through some additional training, so they can find that suitable work they were looking for," she adds.
The funds were publicized as temporary, Lopez says, and adds unemployment is not a 100% replacement of what people were making before.
"So even losing that $300, it was temporary and was put out there that it was temporary, but they have so many other services they can take advantage of that can result in better employment," Lopez said.
Lopez wants those facing hardship to know they are not alone and Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley is there to support them. They help provide tons of assistance, including rental, utility, housing, and childcare, just to name a few. They can also help with obtaining work-related items, like purchasing scrubs, tools and work boots, etc.
"Either the $300 is going to go away or the complete unemployment insurance payment is going to go away, because they are going to exhaust their unemployment, so it's better to take advantage of them, while these services are available to them and find employment before everything runs out," Lopez added.
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