Extended unemployment benefits expire Saturday in Virginia

Posted at 2:21 PM, Nov 20, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. - About 20,000 people in Virginia will lose extended unemployment benefits this Saturday.

The benefits, which are currently federally funded, will expire Saturday. The Virginia Employment Commission says because Virginia's insured unemployment rate has dipped below 5%, the benefits are ending for now.

People who had exhausted regular unemployment benefits or other programs were eligible for these benefits. VEC stresses work is available in the Commonwealth.

"I want to stress we have 500,000 jobs advertised on our site, so there are jobs people can apply for," said Joyce Fogg, a spokesperson for VEC. "I know that may not be everyone's answer that they want to hear, but there are jobs out there and available. If your assistance ends, people will have to go back to work at some point."

Fogg says the extended benefits lasted for a maximum of 13 weeks and many were getting close to expiring anyway.

The uncertain economy leading many to take jobs outside of their careers while COVID-19 shuts down certain industries, like the live music industry.

Brent Hobin is a local concert technician. Earlier this year, he received unemployment benefits, but now has taken a job as a driver for a company. "I wanted to make ends meet, plus all my other work was completely shut down," he said. "It's either do this or do nothing."

Experts worry more tough times are ahead if Congress doesn't act on another COVID relief package. More federal unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire at the end of the year. "We're going to be entering 2021 in a state of not despair, but an increasing uncertainty unless there is action in the next month and a half by Congress and the president," said Dr. Robert McNab, an economist at Old Dominion University.

Related: VEC explains why some people are getting letters to pay back $8K in unemployment benefits

Many are left in the balance as the uncertain times continue. "It's been causing a lot of anxiety, a lot of depression," said Hobin. "It's totally beyond all of our control."

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