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Enhanced unemployment checks prompt questions about what level of government aid is justified

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Some laid off workers are making more money from enhanced unemployment checks than when they were actually showing up for regular work shifts.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Is the more robust unemployment assistance for people whose jobs were disrupted by the pandemic what the local economy needs, or is it hampering employers in their ability to hire workers?

The $600 a week boost to unemployment benefits undoubtedly has helped rescue many who were laid off due to COVID-19.

It is also clear some people whose jobs were at least temporarily displaced are now making more money than when they were showing up to offices and factories.

Close to 40 percent of northeast Indiana's workers do jobs in the manufacturing sector.

A number of those folks may not be making as much with the enhanced unemployment checks compared to salaries from their regular jobs.

But many part-time employees and workers in lower-level retail or food service jobs are better off income-wise for the time being taking in the more than $600 a week under the first installment of the CARES Act.

We talked to a couple of people with extensive experience in the local jobs arena about whether the congressional aid might be making it harder for employers trying to lure workers back to their job sites.

"There has to be an incentive for people to return to work. If not, they're going to stay at home and that's not good for our local economy, it's not good for local employers that are looking for people to work for them," said Steve Corona, the former CEO of the Job Works program based in Fort Wayne.

"The other thing we have to turn our attention to now is getting this economy going again. We cannot sustain our economic growth just on relief funding from the federal government. They've been very supportive but we have to get people working again," said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, a local organization that promotes business investment.

The enhanced benefits right now are scheduled to run out July 31st.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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