ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits is going away, leaving jobless workers wondering how they’re going to survive.

Clayton Northcraft and his roommates are packing up and moving out of their Pasadena apartment.

“We really love it here…I mean, this is our community,” said Clayton Northcraft, an unemployed Pasadena resident.

A bartender at Guinness before COVID-19, he can no longer afford rent without $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits.

“The federal employment is so important right now,” he said.

More than 33,000 Marylanders filed for unemployment the week ending July 18. Northcraft said state unemployment benefits are not enough.

“I would not be able to live off of that,” he said.

And he’s not alone.

“I won’t have as much money to pay the rent and the utilities,” said Diana Liakos, unemployed Annapolis resident.

But others believe this federal benefit needs to go.

“We are not going to pay people more to stay at home than to work,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

“Without the $600 per week, this means that families and workers and communities are going to be left to fend for themselves,” said Kali Grant, with the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality.

The state’s Department of Labor reports 33,378 filed claims, down from 37,383 the previous week. It’s the second week in a row numbers went down.

The unemployment insurance numbers were on the rise for several weeks. Unemployment numbers hit their peak back on May 2 when more than 109,000 Marylanders filed for unemployment.

With a spike in COVID-19 cases, many parts of Maryland are reversing reopening plans, making it hard to find work.

“The jobs I’ve been looking at are only allowing part-time, two days a week at $12 an hour…that’s not gonna cut it,” Northcraft said.

Senate Republicans are now considering a short-term extension of this benefit, lowering it to $100 a week until December.

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Last week, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that more than 47,500 fraudulent claims were filed with Maryland’s unemployment office, totaling $501 million.

The scheme was uncovered with the state’s unemployment system and the claims were filed from out-of-state.

See the county-by-county breakdown here. 

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Annie Rose Ramos

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