The Arkansas Legislature may soon convene for a special session to deal with the severe impact of COVID-19. The Governor’s call for a special session should include a restoration of Unemployment Insurance benefits to 26 weeks and a state created pool of unemployment benefits for barbers, stylists, restaurant owners and others who have been forced to close due to COVID-19. Unemployment relief is needed now.
Unemployment Benefits Restoration & Extension
Arkansas and the nation is facing a severe economic forecast. The state has already seen an uptick in unemployment applications. Arkansas’s Unemployment Insurance program covered 26 weeks in 2013, it currently only lasts 16 weeks. This program must be fully restored for the benefit of working Arkansans who have been impacted by business closures and COVID-19.
Assistance must also be made available to barbers, stylists, and restaurant owners who are not currently eligible, and out of work with no promise of short term help.
“Right now, more than ever, people need to have some security,” said DPA Chairman Michael John Gray. “It’s hard enough on a single mom, or a father of three, to provide for their family in a good year. But now we are seeing entire sectors of the economy close down, sometimes by government order. That’s not fair to working people and their families.“Restoring unemployment insurance to 26 weeks like it was in 2013, and extending assistance to barbers, stylists, restaurant owners and others who have been forced out of work is the right thing to do in times like these. We can’t let people head into April and May not knowing how they’ll pay their rent, keep the lights on, and put food on the table. People can’t live like that. We can be there for each other and do better by them.”