- GOP-led states are announcing they’ll end their participation in federal unemployment benefits early.
- One of those states is Missouri, which will end all of those extra benefits effective June 12.
- Cindy Walker, 57, will lose all of her unemployment; she talked to Insider about her experience.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Chuck Crusan was laid off about a month before his 60th birthday in April 2021. A veteran, Crusan had worked as a warehouse manager in Texas for five years. He was hoping to stay there until he retired.
But instead Crusan joined the ranks of millions of unemployed Americans. His wife, a cancer survivor, is unable to work. He said he was able to get on unemployment benefits with relative ease (something many Americans cannot say), and was receiving the maximum benefit that Texas offers – plus the additional $300 in federal weekly benefits provided by President Joe Biden’s stimulus.
Then Gov. Greg Abbott announced that, effective June 26, the state was withdrawing from all federal unemployment programs.
“It will really throw me and my wife in dire straits,” Crusan told Insider. “I wouldn’t be able to make my bills anymore.”
At least 22 GOP-led states have opted to end their participation in federal unemployment benefits early, setting up millions of workers to lose some or all of their benefits. The governors have cited a so-called labor shortage, especially in light of a weak April jobs report, and returned to a decades-old Republican talking point that social safety net programs like unemployment are a disincentive to work.
But many workers are still actively job searching, and they weren’t making more on benefits than in jobs. Some want the federal government to step in and restore benefits, although that’s increasingly looking like a long shot. A lot of people don’t know what to do, like Cindy Walker.
Walker worked in outside sales for over 20 years and was the most recent hire at her last company. After her company’s PPP loan ran out, she was let go on August 1.
Now 57 years old, she lives outside of St. Louis, and she’s been getting unemployment since. Missouri is another Republican-governed state that moved to cut benefits before September. Her benefits will run out on June 12, along with thousands of other Missourians.
“I was struggling. I’m a single person, and it’s only me that has income coming in, and I’ve been stressing the whole time,” Walker said. “So whenever the $300 extra kicked in, then I was relieved because I thought, well, now I’m not going to be out basically on the street or lose my vehicle or lose my place to live and have utilities shut off.”
Applying to jobs
Both Walker and Crusan said they’ve been actively looking for work, but haven’t secured anything yet.
“I’ve been submitting and submitting resume after resume, trying to get another position. And all I ever get back, I hear from the employers, is either we’ve decided to move on with other candidates, or this employer has decided to not hire at this moment.”
Crusan said he was ready to go to a street corner and tell people, “I don’t want your money. I want a job. I’ve been working since I was 13 years old. And that’s all I know. And I’m good at what I do.”
Walker said Gov. Parson’s decision to “just all of sudden” end the program in Missouri “puts me in a very bad situation.” She said her income will drop to zero unless she gets something else lined up.
“I’ve never worked in the restaurant or the retail industry. So they say they see signs everywhere for hire, which yes they are, but McDonald’s and all these other places … that’s not what I’ve worked in. And even if I went to work there, I still can’t pay my bills. I can’t bring in enough money to even live on. So I don’t know what I’m going to do when this ends on June the 12th.”
Crusan said Texas requires three job searches a week and he’s been doing about that amount every day.
Not making more on unemployment
Walker said she understands what Republican governors are doing in so far as trying to get people back to work that don’t want to rejoin the labor force. She said she thinks people earning more on unemployment “probably do need to go back to work.”
But she said she wished that the governor understood that “we’re not all in the same boat,” and that’s a difference between workers who may be earning more and those whose income took a hit by going on unemployment.
Before the extra $300 in weekly benefits was enacted, Walker said she tried to sign up for health insurance. It would’ve cost her nearly $600 a month; when the additional $300 kicked in, her health insurance costs were also brought down to about $15 monthly.
“I’m going to be back to where I won’t have health insurance again, cause who can pay $600 health insurance when you can’t even pay to have a place to live?”
Crusan also lost his health insurance after his layoff; he said “thank God” his wife was able to complete her cancer treatments before they lost their insurance.
“We’re having to pay for all medications out of pocket now,” he said, adding that his savings are dwindling.
Wanting the government to step in, likely in vain
“I wish that they [the Biden administration] could just jump in and stop what the governors are trying to do to everyone,” Walker said.
Walker, who still has some years to go before she hits retirement, said she feels “stuck.” She said something needs to be done for people around her age who can’t get jobs: “We work all these years for what? To be just thrown out there to the wolves with nothing?”
Ultimately, Walker said she wants to work.
“I’d rather have a job because I feel better when I’m working myself and bringing in income. I’d much rather be working, but give me a chance and give us a chance – of those that are like me – and let us be able to get back to work.”