Unemployment benefits providing relief for some

Others are still struggling to reach the Employment Department.

Posted: Apr 25, 2020 7:06 PM
Updated: Apr 27, 2020 3:45 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- There’s been a lot of voiced frustration in regards to navigating Oregon’s unemployment system. However, there is a growing number of people who say they have been feeling the benefits of coronavirus unemployment relief.

“My bank account has never been more full, which is kind of like a bad thing to say right now but it’s never been that big,” said Ilissa Dickerson.

That’s just from simply not working. Ilissa Dickerson, a 19-year-old worker in the digitizing department of Richardson Sports, filed for unemployment online shortly after she was laid off last week.

“I will be getting paid weekly from unemployment and I will be getting the same amount but for two weeks. So I will be getting paid double,” Dickerson said.

Now Dickseron finds herself in a situation where she’s making more from unemployment checks than she would if she was still working, and it’s because of the extra $600 a week she’s receiving from the federal government.

According to data from the labor department, 46% of workers in Oregon make more from unemployment right now than they do in their jobs. This is true for more than half the states in the U.S. Oregon also has some of the highest minimum unemployment benefits in the country. Out of work employees receive $151 a week plus the extra $600.

But not everyone has had the same experience as Dickerson. It’s actually been a nightmare for so many others because getting a hold of the Employment Department office isn’t the easiest thing.

“I called 354 times and waited on hold for three and a half hours,” said Goodwill Industries worker Jessica Halbrook. “So it’s just really stressful not knowing if or when you are going to be paid.”

Halbrook added a number of her coworkers received the unemployment benefits. But she is still continuing to struggle to navigate through this frustrating, uncertain time.

According to the state, people are not allowed to collect unemployment if they're offered their job back and turn it down. That is unless they are out sick with COVID-19, required to be under mandatory quarantine or are caring for a family member.

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