SEATTLE - Thousands of people in our state will now have to do without key unemployment benefits that dried up just last week.
Federal programs that extended unemployment eligibility and covered contractors, the self-employed and others has now ended.
Many families worry they have been left teetering on the edge, including some who spoke to Q13 News who believed they are owed for months of backlogged payments. Other families worry returning to work could be short-lived if COVID cases force schools to close again.
"I’m a single parent," said Andrea Isakson from Gig Harbor.
Isakson says she has spent months looking for work and believes the extra $300 each week helped, but her needs have not yet changed.
"I still don’t have work and unemployment ended yesterday for the last claim I could make.
"I haven’t been contacted since January 15," said Jammie Dilley who worked in the service industry when pandemic shutdowns forced her off the job.
Dilley says she has had some seasonal work in the meantime but finding long-term work has been difficult. She has since moved out of state to keep a roof over her head.
"A lot of days you’re angry, but you have to keep moving," she said.
The CARES Act expanded and extended unemployment benefits when President Trump signed the bill into law at the end of March last year.
The legislation provided assistance to freelancers, independent contractors, the self-employed and anyone who didn’t qualify for normal unemployment benefits and enrolled in the pandemic unemployment assistance program.
The law also created the pandemic emergency unemployment compensation program.
That provided financial assistance for those who still needed money after their normal unemployment benefits ran out.
And the legislation boosted assistance by $300 each week for eligible applicants under the federal pandemic unemployment compensation program.
Last week was the last time benefits from all three programs would be paid to those seeking help.
Gov. Jay Inslee declined to cover the lost federal assistance with state dollars.
The state Employment Security Department (ESD) says around 200,000 people in our state will be impacted when the expanded benefits end.
Isackson is still looking for work and remaining positive and is hopeful someone will hire her on for remote work from home.
"Although the worst could be impending, it’s no way to live focusing on the bad," she said. "It’s best to stay positive."
According to ESD, here's what you can keep doing:
What to do now
- Keep filing your weekly claims
- If you have an active claim, keep filing for weeks that you want to receive benefits.
- Watch for — and respond to — future messages
- If you might be affected by the end of the federal pandemic programs, we will send you information in your eServices account or by mail. Respond to any of our requests for information. Even if you have stopped claiming or found a job, we still might need to contact you.
- Get help with your job search
- WorkSource can help you find your next job or career. Go to WorkSourceWA.com to get started. Under Resources, use the WorkSource locator to find an office near you and see what services are available virtually and in-person.
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