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Hardships continue for unemployed Kansans waiting for benefits

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 9:13 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Eyewitness News continues to hear from people dealing wit the Kansas Department of Labor and unemployment. While we have heard from a handful of people with some success over the last few days, for many others, hardships and waiting continue. One Wichita man who spoke with Eyewitness News says waiting is no longer an option.

“I’ve lost faith and people have lost faith,” said unemployed Kansan Mike Carlson, from Wichita.

Since Dec. 26, Carlson hasn’t received an unemployment check. He said the message he keeps hearing when he is able to talk to someone is to wait.

“They said just keep, we’re working on it right now, it’s going to be a couple more weeks,” Carlson said.

He said it’s been nearly the same message for the last two months.

“I can’t tell my bill collectors that it’s coming in two weeks. I’m struggling to pay my truck payments, my house rent, utilities, my car insurance, everything,” Carlson said.

He said while he’s been able to stay afloat with the help of family, friends and local nonprofits, he’s just barely getting by.

He said changing information is also frustrating for him. This includes a delay to implement a new program.

That program is Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation in the federal relief package. Last week, KDOL announced a phased payment program with the first payments starting last Friday for those who qualified when the program ended on Dec. 26. Carlson said he’s in that program’s first phase, but as of Monday, that money hasn’t arrived in his account.

“As these payments from the federal government are paid out, I think we got $5,000 last week, at the end of Friday and more to come at the end of this week, and we should finish that up sometime next week,” Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said.

Carlson is just hoping that his wait will soon come to an end after two months of doing everything he’s been instructed to do and that he’ll see the money he’s expecting arrive.

“It’ll be phenomenal because my son’s birthday is (Tuesday) and I really can’t do anything for him because I don’t have any money,” he said.

Carlson was laid off from Spirit AeroSystems. He said he received a recall notice in December to resume work but hasn’t received a start date. This leaves him in limbo and makes searching for another job more difficult.

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