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Unemployed Oregonians Wait for Congress to Take Action

Oregon Employment Department

Tens of thousands of Oregonians on the brink of losing unemployment benefits are watching stimulus negotiations in Congress.

About 70,000 Oregonians could lose their benefits if federal programs are allowed to expire after Christmas. That includes Portland drummer Brian Foxworth. He used to play gigs seven nights a week. Now? None at all.

With so many venues shut down, Foxworth says P.U.A. (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) benefits have been a lifesaver for paying bills, the mortgage, and supporting his kids. Now, he’s one of many musicians, contractors, and other self-employed workers whose near-term prospects are pretty grim.

"My hands is tied. Unless I go get another kind of job. And I just got over COVID."

He says COVID-19 landed him in the E.R. He doesn’t want to risk that again. So, like tens thousands of other Oregonians he’s waiting to see if the federal government will extend emergency benefits.

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