By: KDKA-TV’s Nicole Ford
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – New claims for unemployment are still being filed across the Commonwealth as the extra $600 in benefits ends.READ MORE: Fayette County Priest Andrew Kawecki Pleads No Contest To Charges Of Repeatedly Sexually Assaulting Altar Boy
“It’s going to be tough without that extra $600 and if I don’t get mine soon, it’s just such a headache,” Ryan Smith said.
Smith and his wife both filed for unemployment this spring as their jobs came to a screeching halt. Since Ryan is still waiting on claims to be processed, his wife’s benefits became vital for their family of six.
“That got us by. It bought us groceries, let’s put it that way, during those months. But now that’s going away, and it’s another shot to the leg that we didn’t need,” Smith said.
In total, the Department of Labor & Industry distributed $15 billion in extra benefits from the federal stimulus program.READ MORE: Twitter Suspends Rep. Jim Banks For Misgendering Former Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine
The department’s secretary, Jerry Oleksiak, said he’s in support of any new stimulus program that would provide similar benefits to people in the state.
“We would like to see it kept at $600 wherever Congress ultimately lands because there has been a lot of back forth, we will be ready to get that proper program going,” Oleksiak said.
In the meantime, local organizations are preparing to see more people in need.
“We started to look 12 to 18 months out knowing that there would be dips and increases in the amount of need in the community,” said Lisa Scales, the CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.MORE NEWS: Moderna Says Its Low-Dose COVID-19 Vaccine Works For Kids 6 To 11
Scales said they have three times the normal amount of food in their warehouses if needed.