Unemployment benefits a lifeline for many Austinites - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Unemployment benefits a lifeline for many Austinites

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More than 2,000 people in Travis County lost their emergency unemployment benefits in December. They say that's just one more burden on them as they struggle to find jobs.

The Senate voted Tuesday to move ahead with a measure to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, which would come as a lifeline to those who can't seem to get back on their feet.

After working in the dental industry for 26 years, Janet Herrera got laid off in September.

"When you're already on a tight budget and your pay was cut its a little traumatizing," said Herrera.

A moment when the mother of three realized she would have to start all over.

"Every two weeks you have to call in or log onto the computer, log in all your data," said Herrera.

Herrera has filled out 15 applications a week since losing her job.

Her requirement under the unemployment benefits is only five. The Texas Workforce Solutions says the biggest issue for those who aren't hired right away is a skills gap.

"They just may not have the certification now people are requiring or the bachelor's degree or the associate's degree but that doesn't mean they are not capable of doing the job," Tiffany Daniels, Texas Workforce Solutions.

Herrera says the check she gets every two weeks is not even a third of what she was making before, which was $25 to $28 an hour. For her, taking a job that pays minimum wage would be hard.

"You know I could do it if I had to but it would be about what I'm getting with the unemployment and I'm trying to seek something else in my field that I've been skilled and trained in, that I've been certified in. I went to dental assisting school," said Herrera.

The worst part is the toll it has taken on the kids. This was the first year they relied on the Salvation Army Angel Tree program for help during the holidays.

"We knew that we were hurting you know really bad financially so having the extra charismas for our kids was really tough, it would have been very, very tough without those extra donations for the kids," said Herrera.

Herrera says before her benefits end, she is willing to do just about anything to take care of her family.

"I might have to go flip some burgers," said Herrera.

The final outcome of the benefits extension will be determined during negotiations in the House of Representatives.

LINK:

www.wfscapitalarea.com

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