State gives benefits to unemployed, reduced hour employees

Capitol Bureau
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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – As the economy across the state is plummeting and unemployment rates are increasing, state leaders are hopeful certain steps will keep Kansas’ economy afloat.

However, Karla Smith, a driver for Kansas Central School Bus, is unsure if their actions will be enough.

Smith has been laid off for the remainder of the school year, without pay.

“I have four kids, I’m a single mom,” Smith said. “I’m trying to do Instacart, trying to apply for unemployment, I applied for food stamps but obviously nobody’s in the office.”

The Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) has experienced six times the amount of unemployment filings since Tuesday, with 6,787 compared to 1,787 last year, said KDOL Secretary Delía García.

“We are in an unprecedented time where as in health and economic crisis, so the partnership of sharing resources with each other on a number of areas is going to be key here,” García said.

Using Unemployment Insurance Benefits, the state is hoping to help people such as Smith.

“Unemployment Insurance Benefits are a tool that are there to help support people who are involuntarily unemployed,” said Laurel Klein Searles, unemployment insurance director for KDOL. “They are always there for Kansans and they continue to be there for Kansans.”

These benefits come from a tax on employers, that varies depending on how often they keep employees.

The benefits are a wage given weekly and based on the person’s salary, ranging anywhere from $122 to $488.

“No, that’s not enough,” Smith said. “I make almost double that a week.”

As of March 7, the trust fund that holds the benefit money had $990 million in it.

“That was at a time of historically low unemployment, and so now we’re moving into a time of historically high unemployment very, very quickly and it’s very difficult for us to ascertain the total impact on the trust fund,” Klein Searles said.

Klein Searles and García said they are hopeful the trust fund will not run out, however there is no way to ensure that is does not.

“We don’t know what next week or next month is going to look like,” García said. “So we are in this together, and we want Kansans to know that we are here for them.”

The website to apply for Unemployment Insurance Benefits, click here.

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