Oregonians react to federal unemployment benefits decreasing

Nine million Americans are losing all of their unemployment benefits, while another three million will see their weekly benefits reduced by about 300 dollars a week.

Posted: Sep 6, 2021 6:58 PM

EUGENE, Ore.-- Enhanced unemployment benefits are ending for millions of Americans, including in Oregon.

Nine million Americans are losing all of their unemployment benefits, while another three million will see their weekly benefits reduced by about 300 dollars a week.

During the pandemic, more than 600,000 Oregonians have relied on 10.8 billion dollars worth of benefits from the Oregon Employment Department. Around 120,000 got benefits just last week. But temporary federal programs ended on Sept. 4, so about 81,000 of those will no longer be eligible.

The state said that job openings are at an all-time high, with 98,000 jobs available right now.

Kristopher Manwell, a single father of two, told KEZI now that his unemployment benefits have decreased, he's ready to start handing out his resume.

"For someone like me who enjoys just going out and working and doing things, you know, the last nine months, even for someone who likes to just sit around and play video games, it can get boring," Manwell said.

He was laid off last December and has received unemployment bonuses for the previous 9 months.

"The wage that I have been collecting has defiantly helped me keep a roof over my head, keep myself fed, things like that," Manwell said. "You are still sitting at home kinda doing nothing, you get that itch. Even for people who want to sit at home, you still get that itch eventually."

Manwell told KEZI he is tired of sitting at home and is ready to get back out in the workforce.

"It still comes down to an hourly thing for me. I have two kids," Manwell said. "I at least have to work a 40-hour week job just to make ends meet."

Manwell said the cost of living is high right now, and finding a job is tough. But he said the change in his benefits is the kick he needs to find work.

Janusz Malo, who works in Eugene, said it's sad that the benefits are ending for some.

"I think the Government should raise wages. Kate Brown needs to sign an executive order raising the Oregon minimum wage," said Malo. "I think the federal government needs to raise the minimum wage."

But others say the cut in benefits is long overdue.

One KEZI Facebook fan said, "It should have happened a year ago."

Another posted: "Good; now people can get off their butts and get jobs!"

And a third commented: "Finally! Now get a job and get this country rolling again."

Despite all the back and forth, Manwell said it's important to stay positive.

"You just have to keep your chin up," said Manwell. "You see it out here every day in the streets of Eugene, people fighting for work."

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