Thousands of Central Texans still struggling to find work

Eviction ban set to end at month's end, as well
Posted at 9:10 PM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 22:10:20-04

If there’s anyone who should be able to find work during a pandemic, it’s someone working in the medical field, but don't tell that to Ashley Billsen.

“That was actually last month, when I last saw interest," she said. “It could be two weeks, a month, I don’t know.”

In reality, it's been nearly a year since the Bell County resident has found steady work.

25 News first visited with her over the summer. A recent part-time opportunity fell apart after she contracted COVID-19.

Like most of the other 7.4 million Texans who have filed for unemployment since last March, the ups and downs are taking a toll.

"This pandemic is crazy," said Billsen.

Dr. Luis Torres, a research economist at Texas A&M University, says despite the state fully reopening, there's still a lot of hurt for lower to middle-income families.

“Even with the benefits, the stimulus checks, you’re not earning what you were before, especially middle income earners," said Torres.

The end of the eviction moratorium on March 31 could throw many families on the financial brink into an outright downward spiral.

The CDC and Biden Administration are weighing an option to extend it, but there's no guarantee.

Eventually, Torres says, landlords need to be paid, and people need to realize an additional round of massive stimulus will only hurt the country's financial future.

“It gets to a point where you have to stop it. You can’t just kick the can down the road. We’ve done a third round of fiscal stimulus,” he said.

Billsen says her landlord has been understanding. She's still collecting some unemployment, too, which helps cover the essentials.

But like so many Central Texans still scrambling to push forward, what she desperately wants is a reliable job with reliable pay, something 2021 has yet to produce.