LAFAYETTE, La. — As four unemployment benefits are coming to an end, Acadiana agencies are trying to connect people looking for work with the right opportunities.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) benefits are no longer active as of July 31.
As people are getting back to work, Acadiana Workforce Solutions hosted the Festival of Opportunity. The agency is seeing an increase in people seeking help to get back into the workforce.
The event aimed to connect people searching for work with the resources they need to succeed – especially after a rough couple of years due to the pandemic.
“We have a lot of people who are known as dislocated workers, and those are individuals who were laid off from work, no fault of their own, and we have all the tools and resources they need to get reconnected,” said Keidrian Kunkle, operations director. “We have some special grants to get people back to work right away. We're offering positions with on-the-job training earning up to 20 dollars per hour.”
She says, people aren’t aware of the benefits these job centers offer while seeking financial independence.
She calls them hidden gems.
“We would like to see even more," she said. "There’s definitely... It fell off during COVID, the centers were still open, but not a lot of folks were coming in and we really want to now remind people centers are open, we are here, you got to wear a mask when you come in, but all the resources are available, you come in you can do a job search, use the copy machine for free, use the internet for free."
These resources, combined with passionate employees at the agency are making a difference, especially as federally unemployment benefits come to an end.
“Our number one passion and the reason we get out of bed every day is to help people get back to work and get the job training they need.There’s no feeling like it, it's very rewarding and it’s such a privilege to have the opportunity to get people back to work,” she said.
The same law that ended the four federally funded benefits is also raising the maximum weekly benefit amount by $28 from $247 to $275. That’s the first increase in more than a decade.
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