$600 supplement to end in two weeks, unemployed anxious

Update on the future of unemployment benefits

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The number of jobless across Louisiana is showing slight improvements but there remains incredibly high numbers of unemployment with 26,351 filing claims.

Many are growing anxious as the extra $600 a week supplement from the federal government sets to expire in two weeks.

“A lot of businesses are being shuttered,” said Travis Smith, father of 7 who was a cook until furloughed. “Trying to reopen is almost impossible because we’re a tourism city and we thrive on tourism.”

He and his wife were both furloughed from their jobs in March.

Catherine Boeck is unemployed after the music hall she worked closed. The day Governor John Bel Edwards ordered all bars to close, Boeck was preparing for a job interview.

“There’s no work at all,” said the mother of two. “Once the bars stopped, that’s when there was no more work. That’s when I had to stop working and I haven’t worked since.”

Boeck and Smith both say they heavily rely on the $600 a week from the federal CARES Act.

“My unemployment rate is $97 without that,” Boeck said. “When that goes away it knocks me down to $97 a week.”

The unemployment supplement ends July 31st.

In Washington, D.C., Congress is looking at three proposals.

The first, the HEROES Act, which the House passed last month, would extend the additional $600 until January 2021.

Option two, known as the Worker Relief and Security Act, would continue benefits, but the amount would differ state-to-state.

The final possible option is referred to as an incentive to get people back to work. The feds would send $450 to people who take on a new job, on top of their new wages for 6-weeks.

Boeck says she does not care which one moves through Congress as long as they sign something, “We’re just breaking even right now. So, when this happens, We’re going to have to figure out something.”

Travis Smith says of the options, he wants to stay with the status quo, “it’s a no brainer. It’s the continued extension of the $600,” he said. “I believe that will be a help, not only for the American people but that will help with the economy.”

The U.S. Senate is back in session Monday.

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