NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The pandemic has stretched New Mexico unemployment to the max. Friday lawmakers got an idea of how bad it’s gotten and how much worse it could get
For the last three months, the state has been borrowing money from the feds to pay out unemployment benefits. Workforce Solutions officials are anticipating a surge of people filing for unemployment due to the latest public health order.
Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley says the state has already borrowed $150 million from the federal government so it can keep paying out benefits. He estimates that the number could be closer to $200 to $250 million by the end of the year.
McCamley said he thinks the federal government needs to pass another stimulus package to get people back on their feet. “People, right now, need help, they really really need help I’m pretty disappointed in Congress as are a lot of people that couldn’t get some kind of stimulus package done that’s where the big finally solutions got to come from. It’s got to come from our Congressional folks in Washington,” says McCamley.
Also during the meeting, legislators questioned Workforce Solutions about the high volume of calls and the frustrations that surrounds those needing to file for unemployment. The department says they are continuing to hire people and will have brought 100 people in to take calls by the end of the year. “We’re not perfect and we get that but we are adding more people every single two months period and we’ll continue to do some because it’s one of the things we need to do is staff up we hear you on the frustration,” McCamley says.
Next week lawmakers are expected to meet in a special session. One of the topics they’ll take up, a possible $300 per week boost to people on unemployment. Currently, about 104,000 New Mexicans are on unemployment.