Oklahoma mom uncertain about future after governor pulls federal unemployment benefits

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ENID, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma mom said she’s at a loss about what she will do after Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Oklahoma would end federal unemployment benefits on June 27.

Maria Eaves said she feels like she is being forced to choose between bettering her future or taking a low-wage job to make ends meet.

“It was a scary time in our lives, and I wasn’t sure with my job ending exactly what I was going to do,” said Eaves.

Eaves said she has worked since the age of 13, and August 2020 was the first time in her life she’s filed for unemployment.

Eaves says the unemployment office got her started with the federally funded program to train her to become a radiology tech. The program requires her to attend classes 40 hours a week. She said removing the extra $300 will make it harder for her to complete training.

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Maria Eaves

“I am 43 years old. I don’t have a lot of do-overs in life,” said Eaves. “I’m really just worried that in the future, adding more on top of that is probably not going to be ideal for my family.”

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said approximately 90,000 unemployment claims were filed the week of May 2nd.

“As far as workforce is concern, OESC really does take an active role in trying to find other opportunities for claimants who do apply for unemployment, and as far as that, we’ve been doing career fairs all over the state the past three weeks,” said OESC Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt.

Eaves said she’s not asking for handouts. She wants the government to understand she’s fighting to keep her head above water.

“It’s just really hard to hear people talk as if you’re unworthy for any type of assistance,” she said. “This is a program or system I have put into my whole life. I’m just asking for what I am entitled to under those programs.”

Eaves says if the extra funds do expire in June, she’ll finish the program and find a way to make things work.

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