EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — Hundreds of thousands of Texans lost their jobs when COVID-19 hit. More than a year into the pandemic, many are hitting the end of their traditional unemployment benefits. The Texas Workforce Commission is reminding Texans that federal programs are in place to provide assistance.
“It’s not like a typical unemployment situation in which jobs are simply lost,” said James Bernsen, Deputy Director of Communications for TWC. “People could not even go to work even if they wanted to. Now we’ve gotten into a position where a lot of those jobs that were impacted by the shutdowns, a lot of those are coming back and we’re seeing improvements in the economy.”
While regular unemployment benefits last for 26 weeks, those who remain unemployed will receive Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation when their traditional benefits expire. A representative from TWC said individuals should not reapply for those benefits if they have remained unemployed.
An individual would need to reapply if they went back to work and became unemployed again, according to the representative.
Another federal program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, can help those who traditionally would not receive unemployment benefits, such as individuals who are self-employed or are seeking part-time work.
Both programs are set to expire in September of this year.
TWC has also reestablished work search requirements throughout the state, including in El Paso. It means that El Paso residents must show they are actively seeking employment to continue collecting unemployment benefits.
“We recognize that not everybody can take the work, so sometimes you might look for work and there’s just not a job that you can take,” Bernsen said. “If you have, for example, a condition that you can’t get the vaccine, that would be a very difficult situation to go back to work in person, but there are a lot of jobs out there. There are lots of jobs that you can work remotely.”
Bernsen urges Texans who remain unemployed to consider work in different industries. TWC offers free training that can assist Texans in learning new skills or obtaining new certifications. You can find those resources here.
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