Iowans on unemployment concerned early ending of benefits will do more harm than help

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 6:11 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowans on unemployment say the Governor’s decision to end participation in pandemic-related unemployment benefits will hurt more than help.

“I was not real happy about it,” said Patty Blackwell. Blackwell is a Type-2 diabetic with osteoarthritis and a family history of blood clots. Because of that, she’s nervous about getting a vaccine or going back to work.

“So her cutting off employment for people like me early is kind of scary because I don’t even know if I can get a job at my age or if I’m even able to go back to work,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell receives the extended federal benefits, plus an additional $300 a week after she was laid off at the start of the pandemic.

“My husband just got a promotion at work so maybe he’ll make enough to sustain us,” she said. “It’s gonna be hard.”

Janelle Lauer works freelance in the arts and theater industry, an industry still largely shut down.

“People are hurting. The pandemic is not over. People do want to work. It’s not that people don’t want to work,” she said.

Lauer turned to virtual performances but has relied on federal benefits since the self-employed don’t qualify for state benefits.

“Why I pull the rug out now? Now, you’re taking all that money that people were going to be able to use to live on,” she added.

Lauer says it wasn’t unexpected but was hoping to have the assistance until September when it was originally supposed to expire.

“I don’t care. That’s really what it feels like. It feels like she doesn’t care about the people of the state at all,” Lauer said.

For now, Lauer has taken a music direction job paying half her normal rate, but she, like Blackwell, is unsure of what the future will hold.

“I just want the government to take care of the people who can’t go back,” Blackwell said.

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