Lubbock prepares for expiration of federal unemployment benefits

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — The federal unemployment benefits put in place by the coronavirus relief bill in March ended on Friday, July 31.

However, with 11.1 percent of Americans currently unemployed, lawmakers have yet to put a relief plan in place with more stimulus aid.

South Plains Workforce Solutions explained that, because employment throughout the state is at an all time high right now, Texans will receive extended benefits from state government even though federal aid has expired. Yet, this may not be enough for some.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 7 percent of Lubbock’s population were unemployed in June. Experts said that with the recent surge in cases this month, they think that number may increase.

“Even if the congress comes back and passes some relief bill it will probably still be another couple of weeks before you’ll see any kind of money in the economy,” said Martin Aguirre, CEO of Workforce Solutions.

Aguirre explained that 885 additional Lubbock citizens filed for unemployment benefits in the last week of July. A significant amount of businesses such as restaurants, hotels and retail stores have laid off and furloughed employees, as well.

“For those on the edge, for those that are making ends meet now, because of the $600, you’re going to see some some hard times,” said Aguirre. “You’re going to see that they’re going to have to negotiate with their creditors and other things about payments because they won’t have the money to pay to make the payments.”

The coronavirus stimulus package also had an eviction safeguard which allowed many to stay in their homes even if they weren’t able to fully pay rent. Now, landlords will be able to evict those who haven’t been able to pay and Aguirre said he anticipates a rise in homelessness.

“You’ve got people now that are behind in the rent already but they still had a roof [over their head] because they couldn’t evict you,” he said. “But now, you’re going to get evicted. So you’ll see them, you’ll see more homelessness, you’ll see — the shelters should be, you know, gearing up for that.”

He says he received a letter from one unemployed woman, who will remain anonymous for confidentiality, explaining the hardships she’s now anticipating without this extra aid.

In one part, she said:

“I’m past due on rent three months and late fees of over one rental payment… It’s very depressing and my landlord expects some type of resolution to this horrible situation by this week or eviction process will begin.”

Aguirre said even some non-profits are limited with how much help they can provide if more people become unemployed.

“Hopefully the nonprofit’s have a solid base of financing to help but they also depend on people’s generosity and on people you’re giving to the to the nonprofit. So some of the nonprofit’s are also feeling the crunch,” said Aguirre.

Workforce Solutions will be holding virtual job fairs periodically to help connect those who are currently unemployed with more job opportunities. However, until the government announces what they will do next, Aguirre said there is a lot of uncertainty.

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