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East Texans struggle to find work ahead of federal unemployment expiration

On June 26, more than 300 thousand residents will lose federal unemployment.
Credit: TEGNA

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Renee Holland is a single mom. She faces a grave reality in two weeks when her unemployment is cut down.

“It's very frightening," Holland said, "I mean, I have the potential to actually lose my house.”

When asked how many jobs she's applied for during the pandemic, she responded, “Hundreds. Actually hundreds.”

Holland says her industry working on the financial side of education is competitive — so competitive that she’s applying for the same positions as thousands of other people. So far for her, no luck.

“Sure, yeah I could be a Pizza Hut driver," Holland said. "I won't pay the mortgage. I won't pay the water bill. I won't pay the gas bill. I won't pay the electric bill. I won't pay for auto insurance. I mean, there are so many factors.”

Governor Greg Abbott's plan to remove the additional federal funding comes after pressure from business groups who said that the funds took away an incentive to find work. Congress extended these benefits through September, but Abbott is withdrawing Texas from them three months early. Holland says he’s got the wrong idea.

“'You're lazy. You don't want to go work,’" she imitated, "Please Abbott, find me a job that pays the salary that I was getting pre-COVID because that's what my household is based on. It's not that I don't want to work.”

She hopes that for her and the thousands of other jobless Texans, they can find another way to stay afloat, and soon.

The Texas Workforce Commission has also announced that jobless Texans who refuse work because they're afraid to catch the virus won’t be able to receive unemployment benefits as of June 26.