Expiring unemployment benefits leave many El Pasoans on edge

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The extra $600 weekly unemployment benefit passed in March is expiring this week, leaving many jobless El Pasoans wondering how they’re going to make up for the extra funds.

The unemployment rate in El Paso is declining, but Workforce Solutions says more than 82,000 people have applied for unemployment in the West Texas region since the pandemic began.

“It’s been kind of a struggle to say the least,” said El Pasoan David Vazquez.

Vazquez has been receiving that extra $600 a week through unemployment, but with the extra $600 weekly benefit ending, he says the job search is critical.

“Receiving that 600 dollars kind of put that ease of mind, like okay, I’m not going to get evicted,” he said.

Workforce Solutions Borderplex says the unemployment rate in El Paso dropped as restaurants opened, but says with virus restrictions, jobs are still limited.

“The rate of reemployment will not be so fast so there will certainly be a lot more demand of people needing jobs that there are available jobs,” said Leila Melendez, CEO of Workforce Solutions Borderplex.

Workforce Solutions says trends also show a shift in the type of jobs available.

“There may be individuals that return to a job or can find a job so they can perform it at home,” Melendez said.

As KTSM reported, Senate Republicans worry a larger unemployment check discourages people from looking for work.

“We should not be taxing somebody who’s been stocking shelves for months so the government can pay her neighbor more than she makes to sit at home,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Vazquez says he can understand the concern but says he’s been actively searching for a job since losing his in March.

“It’s nice to get a bit more paid, making more money now than when I was working, but there’s this underlying stress of how long this is going to last,” he said.

The last of those extra $600 checks were distributed last week, even though the relief package ends on the 31st of July. Payments are only provided on weeks ending on either Saturday or Sunday.

For more information on what jobs are currently available in our area, visit www.workintexas.com.

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