‘It’s going to hurt when it goes away’: Local people react as extra unemployment benefits set to end next week

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Without an extension, weekly payments under Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation are expected to come to an end next week.

The program under the CARES Act provides an additional $600 weekly to those out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reginald Holland of Greensboro has been using the money to care for his grandchildren and his mother.

When we first met Holland outside the NC Works office in March, he was struggling to secure unemployment benefits. At the time, Holland expressed concern about paying his mortgage.

“(I’m) really family oriented, and all I care about is these guys, making sure they’re alright,” he said Monday, gesturing to his grandkids.

Holland lost his job as a carpenter amid the pandemic. He said the money from unemployment insurance has helped him support his family, but he’d rather have a job.

“It’s going to hurt when it goes away, but I’m taking advantage of some of the programs and stuff like that they offer to start a business for myself,” Holland explained.

He’s considered part of the vulnerable population for contracting COVID-19 but plans to work in freighting to continue working for himself.

“The labor market is going to be tight. As people’s benefits begin to dry up and exhaust, you’re going to have an influx of people all competing for a certain amount of jobs,” said Chris Rivera, the interim director for workforce development in Guilford County.

The NC Works office reopened its doors this week to those seeking employment. Rivera encourages people to come in before extra benefits run out.

In the service industry, restaurant owners with the Triad Food and Beverage Coalition are sharing their ideas with federal representatives as they try and get employees who make more staying home back to work.

“I think it’s a tough situation we’re in. On one hand, we do agree that the current benefits should be extended, but it shouldn’t be extended in its current form,” Algenon Cash said.

NCDES has paid more than $4 billion under the federal program. Unless lawmakers decide to extend the program, FPUC will not be payable for any week ending after July 25.

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