Clock ticking before federal enhanced unemployment benefits expire

Posted at 2:54 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 21:46:51-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Brent Hobin expects to remain mostly out of work through the end of the year.

The freelance technician is used to helping put on concerts and other events. Those events have been canceled since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Some anxiety has been experienced and in some cases, I have to say depression," Hobin told News 3 on Thursday. "It's just a totally helpless feeling."

News 3 spoke with him in June as he had trouble receiving the benefits. He's since been able to receive them, but now the federal portion of them are set to expire at the end of the month. That's an extra $600 a week on top of state benefits.

"It has kept us basically from going into debt. We are able to pay our bills on time. That's a huge benefit," he said.

Congress is still debating its next relief bill, including potentially extending unemployment benefits. Some proposals have called for lowering the amount of money. There's been concerns of people not returning to work because they make more money on unemployment.

Hobin says that's not the case for him. "In the case of the entertainment industry, there is no work to go back to at this point. We're not sitting back on this benefit saying, 'Hey, I'm on Easy Street now.' No, we'd rather go back to work," he said.

As the debate continues on Capitol Hill, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) wants the payments extended, but said he is open to alternatives besides just making them enhanced unemployment benefits. "I'm very open to what is the best way to do it, but we've got to get dollars into the hands of people who are unemployed to get them through this challenging time," he said.

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