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Some Hoosiers worried about federal pandemic unemployment benefits ending in Indiana

Posted at 11:21 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 08:12:15-04

INDIANAPOLIS — More changes are on the way for Hoosiers receiving unemployment benefits. Gov. Eric Holcomb announced on Monday that the state will opt out of all federal pandemic unemployment benefit programs.

Those programs helped thousands of Hoosiers.

“I get about $400 a week coming in and that pays a couple bills that I have,” Kiley Bunce explained.

Bunce said she was working as a marketing coordinator when she lost her position due to the pandemic. She is actively looking for a new job and said the unemployment benefits have helped her get by until she finds one.

“I’ve been searching for a position. I have my bachelor’s and my master’s degree. I want to work,” Bunce said.

Holcomb has said ending the federal pandemic unemployment benefit programs will help encourage Hoosiers to go back to work and will help fill the state’s approximately 116,000 jobs.

“The hope of it is it will spur folks to go out and apply for jobs, some of who are maybe in the lower end of the pay level who have been doing just as well on the extended unemployment benefits may now be more motivated to go back and start looking for work when a lot of businesses are hiring right now,” Kyle Anderson, an economist at the IU Kelley School of Business said.

He said this could prompt some people to go back to work, but not everyone is in that situation.

“A lot of the folks who are on unemployment benefits might not just be kind of sitting at home waiting. A lot of them maybe are back in school to get training, taking care of family, doing other things that are beneficial and this may be harder for them to transition back into market in the same way," Anderson said.

“People think everybody on unemployment used to work in the food service industry and retail and stuff and that's not the case. There's a lot of us who lost a good-paying job because the pandemic happened,” Bunce added.

Several other states have already opted out of the federal pandemic unemployment programs. Experts said it is too soon to tell what impact this is having on their economy.

“What the governor has cut off is federal dollars, so these weren't even state dollars that were being used and so now we are going to get less dollars from the US government flowing into Indiana, but other states that are keeping these benefits are still going to be getting that money so in that sense it's not a great thing for Indiana,” Anderson said.

Bunce said she's hopeful she will find a job soon. She is grateful her family is about to help her out and she worries about others who may not have that extra support.

“I’m thankful I still am able to live at home with my mom and dad so I don’t have to worry about rent," Bunce said. "I don’t have any children. I don’t have to worry about caring for a child, but it breaks my heart because I’m in that group and I see these women struggling who have to pay the rent, they have two or three kids to take care of and I feel so bad for them because if I’m struggling they are going to be struggling 10 times more."