RICHMOND, Va. -- Enhanced federal unemployment benefits officially expired Saturday and many Virginians have been receiving them after they were laid off during the pandemic.
“It's been very difficult this past year, and a lot of questions and worries," Lorrene Dobb said.
Lorene Dobb reflected on the difficulties of the last 16 months, after becoming unemployed due to the pandemic.
"I'm self-employed, and I'm a hair stylist," Dobb explained. "So it's been difficult to, to get much done when your hands-on with someone."
Dobb said she spent the past nearly year and a half trying to claim unemployment benefits from the Virginia Employment Commission. Then after months of getting legal help, she recently received her claims.
“I don't know what I would do without it. And it's been a big help," Dobb said. "I needed it. And it's nice to know that if you know work hard at something, it will pay off."
But with the extra benefits ending, Dobb said she is being forced out of her home.
"So I'm in the middle of moving. And I don't know how to stop and reverse that at this point," Dobb said.
While federal unemployment benefits end, state benefits will still continue. Ligitagation experts now offer this advice to those who were depending on federal unemployment benefits.
“If you have a state benefit claim, continue to follow your weekly claims, continue to do your job searches. And if you get a suitable job, take it and understand that that will not affect your entitlement to past due benefits that you've applied for and submitted weekly claims for," Martin Wegbreit, litigation director for Central Virginia Legal Aid Society.
Meanwhile for small business owners, experts believe ending the extra unemployment will help businesses struggling to hire new workers.
"Hopefully with the unemployment benefits running out this weekend, they're going to see more folks applying more folks showing up for interviews," Nicole Riley with the National Federation of Independent Businesses said. "And, you know, frankly, it's just, it's a really hot time as an employee looking for a new job, or a new position, maybe even a new career."
Dobb is feeling optimistic that things will get better and that she will find a new job soon.
"I just hope that everything moving forward will be much smoother than it has been for the past 16 months," Dobb said.