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Enhanced unemployment expires, many remain jobless amid pandemic

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BATON ROUGE- Enhanced pandemic unemployment has come to an end. As of Saturday, July 25, the extra $600 per week for those unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic has expired.

The Cares Act, a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, authorized $600 a week of enhanced unemployment benefits. The act referenced July 31, 2020, as the official expiration date of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, however, the U.S. Labor Department says the states can pay unemployment benefits no later than the week ending one week before July 31, 2020.

Since July 31 is not on a weekend, the week prior became the new end date for those benefits, which are paid biweekly ending on a Saturday or Sunday.

For all states, except New York, the end date comes six days sooner than some expected.

"The first thing that went through my mind was, 'is this possible, is this real?'," Patrick Addison said.

Addison has was laid off from his food service job at LSU when the university shut down for the coronavirus.

It took him weeks to begin collecting his unemployment benefits, including the pandemic bonus.

"When I first started to do the unemployment, it was a hard process because you had to go through so many people and the call waiting," Addison said.

Almost 200,000 residents in Louisiana are collecting benefits that are going down to less than $250 a week, which is the state's standard unemployment pay.

Addison says he has saved the extra unemployment, concerned that the coronavirus might take a turn for the worse and leaving him in a bind.

"During the pandemic, you never know when they will fully stop you and go to the next phase is totally quarantine," Addison said.

State and federal lawmakers are working on an extension of the pandemic unemployment money, but have not come to an agreement.

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