This past year was undoubtably one of the toughest bottom-line years for Shekeya McCallister.
“I worked for a non-profit organization but I lost my job. I was able to obtain another job. However, the start date never came because of COVID,” said the Killeen woman.
McCallister went months filling out job applications, looking for a way to support her family, but her troubles didn’t stop there.
“I wasn’t able to file for unemployment because I didn’t qualify. I was basically without a job for a whole year,” she said.
According to a recent study by SmartAsset, Texas ranks third among the hardest hit states financially. The state had the 12th-highest change in unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After what we saw, it was directly correlated with businesses shutting down during the pandemic. That displaced many of the workers, especially those in the service industry,” said Charley Ayres, director of industry and education partnerships for Workforce Solutions of Central Texas.
Experts say the pandemic, along with that massive winter blast, caused a lot of financial problems for Texans.
“If they’re not able to make your housing payment, that puts them at risk. Just because they can’t be evicted necessarily under certain circumstances, it doesn’t mean they have adequate food for everybody in the family,” explained Robert Tennant, interim department chair of finance, accounting and economics at Texas A&M-Central Texas.
Tennant says almost 10% of Texas residents reported in mid- to late-February 2021 that they either missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment or made the payments the next month.
In the end, McCallister is one of the lucky ones dipping into her savings while relaunching her own business and searching for a new job to stay afloat. However, she says Texas still needs help.
“People should be allowed to continue to get it until this boils over. Even though we feel like were at the end, it’s like we’re at the beginning all over again," she said.
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