$600 unemployment benefit coming to an end

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — Friday is final day for people who are receiving extended unemployment help.

These benefits have added an extra $600 to budgets stretched thin by layoffs and business closings. But now, that extra cash has run dry.

“It has helped me and my family a whole lot during the unemployment,” said Valerie Smith of Starkville. “Because without the extra $600 I wasn’t knowing how to keep a roof over our head or how we was going to eat or pay all the bills.”

Smith, who has been on unemployment since March, went back to work just this week.

But is worried for those who relied on that extra cash to pay their bills.

“So now that the $600 is ending, not only myself, there’s going to be a lot of families out there hurt,” said Smith. “How are they supposed to pay the rent? How are they supposed to pay the utility bills or feed their kids? Because if you go back to work during the Coronavirus and you get sick, you have to go back on unemployment again and then what?”

Kaylee Berry, Deputy Director for the Office Reemployment Assistance here in Mississippi, said there isn’t another option for those looking to receive extra money at the moment.

But, there are talks between congressional leaders on an extension.

“It is my understanding that there is ongoing discussion about a potential extension or a possible form of the $600 payment that may be passed moving forward,” said Berry.

So what if an employee is asked to come back to work during this pandemic?

“There may be conditions where a person might be directly impacted by COVID,” said Berry. “That would allow them to have ongoing eligibility even if they did not return to work, but it will be based on their circumstances. The circumstances of the job offer to them, suitable work, a lot of factors come into play.”

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