Unemployment struggles amid health crisis


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – The financial hit of COVID-19 is still being felt by families nationwide, including one right here in northwest Arkansas.

For 39 weeks, Bobbie Boyd has been relying on unemployment, but now she is without options after finding out Monday that she has drawn the max amount of funds offered by the state.

Back in February, the pandemic forced Boyd out of her job at Pizza Hut.

Shortly after, she filed for unemployment, not receiving her check until five months later.

“Unemployment was there, but you’re already behind on bills by the time you get it,” she said.

Secretary of Commerce, Mike Preston, said the main problem here is bad timing, mixed with a major spike in unemployment requests.

Just over 700,000 Arkansans have filed unemployment claims since the beginning of 2020 — compared to 61,000 from last year.

“The volume that we’ve seen related to unemployment claims during this year because of the pandemic it certainly slowed things down,” Preston said.

Having received her assistance since July, Boyd’s financial help from the state has now come to an end.

“They’re telling me they have to cut off unemployment due to they’re out of funding,” Boyd said.

“These programs weren’t designed to go on for assistance and perpetuity,” Preston said. “At some point they are going to run out and we’re hopeful that all the recipients are aware of that.”

After 39 weeks of receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Preston said the funds are exhuasted.

Leaving families, like Boyd’s to deal with the continued costs of the health crisis.

“I don’t know how I’ll be able to manage and take care of my family, paying utilities, get out and actually look for a job because you can’t afford gas,” Boyd said.

If you have exhausted your funds and are looking to get back on your feet, Preston encourages you to contact your local workforce center or Arkansas Center for Data Sciences.

For a link to unemployment forms, click here

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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