Boone County residents look forward to extended unemployment benefits

Thursday, July 22, 2010 | 7:16 p.m. CDT; updated 9:13 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jobless residents in Boone County say the prospect of living without unemployment benefits has taken a toll on them.

President Barack Obama signed legislation Thursday that will restore the benefits that expired in early June. The checks could be in the mail as early as next week.

Mary Jane O’Donnell of Fulton said the extended benefits can't come soon enough for her. The Callaway County resident has been without benefits since June.

To get by, she said she moved in with a friend and became familiar with second-hand shops. She interviewed for jobs as a licensed practical nurse at hospitals and health centers, but nothing has come through.

Billy Hall, of Hallsville, said her family is getting by on her husband's income, but they need a second income. She expected her unemployment benefits to run out in two months.

Hall is an experienced office worker but has found that to be a disadvantage. Offices are hiring entry-level workers at $7 an hour, not experienced workers, she said.

Finding a job also costs money. Having a cell phone and an Internet connection is necessary for finding a job but also a financial strain, Hall said.

For Doug Fiser, depending on unemployment was stressful because of the persistent feeling that he might be cut off. Not having a job also made him feel cut off from society.

Society doesn’t smile on people who don’t work, Fiser said. 

He now works at the front desk of the Salvation Army Harbor House.

Twenty hours a week at minimum wage earns him less than what he was receiving from unemployment, he said.

He can’t afford to go to the doctor or dentist. And he struggles to find money for groceries.

“You can’t imagine how you’ll get by, but you do,” he said.



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