VACAVILLE, Calif. — Phyllis Mitchum, 57, had a steady job for nearly 20 years until the coronavirus pandemic forced her employer to furlough workers.
The senior service technician filed for unemployment in May after her company, a subsidiary of Xerox, furloughed her for an indefinite period of time.
Since then, she has received the maximum benefits available through unemployment which is $1,050 per week, or $4,200 per month. Californians who qualify for unemployment may receive up to $450 per week through the state program.
The federal government is also offering an additional $600 per week through the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, but the program is set to expire in California on July 25.
Mitchum said that unemployment check is nearly what she was making while working, and it is helping her pay bills.
“With that $600… if that goes away, it will drastically hurt our income,” Mitchum said.
Government leaders in Washington are currently discussing an extension of the unemployment program through a new coronavirus stimulus bill. Sacramento State professor and economist Sanjay Varshney said the next bill is sure to address unemployment.
“There’s a likelihood [that] they might actually modify that program, and they might reduce the amount offered by the Federal government,” Varshney said. “So, instead of $600 additional, it might be more like $400 or you might see a variation of that in some other form.”
Varshney points out minimum wage workers are likely earning more on unemployment than from their jobs.
As Congress debates new bills, Varshney said pandemic relief programs are likely to be modified to close loopholes… and to incentivize people to go back to work.
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