News 12 at 6 o'clock, October 22, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga.---The Augusta Department of Labor has seen many more people filing for unemployment lately, and officials blame the economy.
Connie Westbrooks never expected to find herself filing for unemployment. She was laid off her job of nearly 40 years, and has been looking for a job for about eight months now.
"I don't want to get on unemployment. I want to work," Westbrooks said.
She worked at a mill in Alabama but it closed down, forcing her to move to Augusta for family to take care of her.
"I've been independent for a long time," she said. "I was ashamed because I didn't want my family's help."
She's filled out application after application, but with no luck finding a job. Now, like so many others, times have become too tough, forcing her to apply for unemployment benefits.
This Augusta office on Greene Street has even extended their hours to accommodate people, many who aren't sure what to expect.
"The overall feel is a feel of just a little bit down but we try to heighten their spirits," said Assistant Manager Natasha Miranda.
The process is fairly simply. Once you come in, you apply on a computer for the benefits, a process Miranda says takes 20 to 25 minutes. You then find out in two to three weeks how much money you're eligible for.
In Georgia, benefits are up to $330 a week and you can receive the money up to 26 weeks. Someone making about $28,000 dollars in a year could potentially get this amount.
While the benefits will help Westbrooks, her real hope is making money herself.
"I want my life back to normal, as far as some money coming in," she said.
Unemployment benefits can vary greatly, based partly on how long you worked and how much you earned at your job.
In September, the average person in Georgia got about $265 a week.