Governor hopes Arkansans get back to work after pulling back federal PUA programs

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Unemployed Arkansans will soon lose than extra $300 a week in benefits.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said starting June 26th, Arkansas will be opting out of the federal pandemic unemployment assistance programs that were set to last through September.

He said this is to encourage Arkansans to get back out into the workforce, with the economy continuing to recover and the demand for workers high.

Some, however, say it is not as simple as it sounds and losing these benefits will be devastating.

“I haven’t lost my home yet, a lot of people have, but I am facing that,” said Andrea Rappleyea, who is unemployed.

Rappleyea has been without work for more than a year now after losing her job during the pandemic.

She said pandemic unemployment assistance checks have helped her family get by as she has looked for a job.

It’s hard to compete with the package that the Biden Administration has made available, not just with unemployment but extra pay to stay at home.”

-GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR)

As a result, Hutchinson said he is taking these federal benefits away to encourage people to go back to work.

“You name it, I’ve applied,” Rappleyea said. “I’ve gone into my town my little town of Prairie Grove and asked to sweep the front of the store, ‘Let me take out your garbage,’ just to make money.”

Hutchinson said for anyone struggling to find work, there is help out there.

“Everyone who wants to work, they need to understand that finding a job- we can provide that assistance,” he said. “If they need assistance in child care, we’re more than happy to provide that assistance.”

Rappleyea said in the meantime, going without these benefits will be harder than ever.

People want to work, but it is an avenue for those of us who can’t find work to still be able to maintain our dignity and meet our basic needs.”

-ANDREA RAPPLEYEA, UNEMPLOYED ARKANSAN

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