West Bend mom is one of millions who lost unemployment benefits – WTMJ-TV

WEST BEND, Wis. — A West Bend family joins millions of Americans who lost their enhanced unemployment benefits during the pandemic. The money was helping Jillaine Kowske and her family make ends meet.

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Jillaine Kowske

“I could use the unemployment still, yes, it’s gonna be a little hardship,” said Jillaine.

The mother of two had been working as a nail tech at a hair salon when the pandemic hit in March of 2020. She lost her job. Then, her husband lost and even her 17-year-old son was furloughed from the restaurant where he worked..

The I-Team first talked to Jillaine back in December of 2020. She had to borrow money from her son because she still had not received any unemployment benefits. It took nearly 10 months before the family saw any money.

Jillaine Kowske
Jillaine Kowske and her family all lost their jobs during the pandemic.

“When you’re getting up in the morning and you feel like you’re fighting to keep your apartment, to keep your car, to keep your bills going, to keep your electric on, keep your water running, it can really beat down on a person,” said Jillaine back in December.

A majority of Wisconsin residents who filed for unemployment got Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. It is an extra $300 a week to their unemployment benefits.

But Jillaine said it was still not as much as she made while working. On top of that, Jillian said because of the department delays in getting assistance her family is still trying to catch up on bills.

“All those months and the whole family gets laid off and you’re you know robbing Peter to pay Paul. You’re asking your cell phone company, your electric company, your water bill, you’re asking everybody to make some kind of payment arrangements with you, due to the circumstances,” said ​Jillaine.

Jillaine is not the only one still using unemployment benefits. Nationally, 7.5 million people lost their benefits over the weekend according to the Century Foundation. In total, the federal government has spent $800 billion on unemployment assistance.

According to Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, just in the last week, DWD has received 43,420 claims for pandemic unemployment benefits.

Breaking that down even further, DWD receive 492 applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) in addition to 18,777 weekly claims. It also received 697 new Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, on top of 24,643 weekly claims.

Since March 15 of last year, DWD has paid out $24 million in FPUC benefits, $7.5 million in PEUC benefits and $3.2 million in PUA benefits.

Jillaine is now trying to find work but the road back to regular employment has not been easy. Just two weeks ago her husband contracted COVID.

“I had COVID in the past, now my husband just said had COVID. It really puts you out for a while it puts you in a circumstance, where you do have to go around making you know different arrangements,” said Jillaine.

Those considered eligible can still receive regular state unemployment insurance. The DWD notified claimants that pandemic benefits ended as of Saturday.

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