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Lawmakers and laid-off workers call on Congress to fund COVID-19 recovery resources in Maine

Nearly 80,000 Mainers filed for unemployment last week.
Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 4:50 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - A group of lawmakers, advocates and laid-off workers are calling on Congress to fund COVID-19 recovery resources in Maine.

Bonus unemployment benefits for laid-off workers during the pandemic expired at the end of July.

In a news conference today several Maine residents discussed the importance of unemployment benefits in supporting local small businesses.

This comes after nearly 80,000 Mainers filed for unemployment last week.

Among the advocates was Micki Whelan who’s owned her own jewelry company for over 35 years.

“We can now see the domino effect of how this is working,” Whelan said. “This isn’t about the individual, this is about a much larger picture in the state and there’s a fatigue, there’s a mental fatigue and now there’s a financial fatigue that doesn’t have to be there.”

Brittany Bugaj, who is a wedding photographer, was also in attendance. She is worried about how this will affect Maine’s wedding industry.

“The wedding industry here is primarily made up of small businesses with a small amount of employees and some are sole proprietors,” Bugaj said. “The bulk of the money made on Maine weddings is funneled right back into the Maine economy, we live here, we shop here. For us the pandemic unemployment assistance and federal benefits is what’s keeping out family afloat, food on our table and a roof over our heads. "

Other laid off workers in the conference expressed concern about paying medical bills and making ends meet.

Advocates say they are hoping that Congress will pass a COVID-19 package that helps families, communities and states deal with the crisis.

Copyright 2020 WABI. All rights reserved.

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