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Federal unemployment assistance ending in Georgia on Saturday

Many people who are receiving the benefit said it will be hard to stay afloat without it.

ATLANTA — A protest formed outside the state labor department offices on Thursday as out-of-work Georgians suggest they will be forced to work in unsafe conditions when federal unemployment benefits end on Saturday.

The change is expected to impact a lot of people. According to the Department of Labor, more than 200,000 Georgians are currently getting federal unemployment assistance through the COVID Relief package in addition to state unemployment. 

Many people who are receiving the benefit said it will be hard to stay afloat without it.

"It's very scary because we are living in difficult times. And I feel sorry for a lot of people, including myself, we just don't know what we are going to do.," said Marculles Rowe. 

He lost his job in the transit industry just before the pandemic hit. 

He said the federal assistance in addition to the state unemployment he receives just barely pays his bills. 

"Without those benefits, a lot of people are going to be homeless, crime is going to go up; so, it's very imperative that we keep them," he said. 

A small group of people is planning to camp outside the Georgia Department of Labor Office overnight to protest the state stopping those benefits. 

But when 11Alive spoke to the Department of Labor Commissioner about the decision, he said cutting off federal funding will incentivize people to get back to work. 

"We haven't seen the labor participation rate change much since last October, even though even going back to the end, we've seen more and more jobs open up across the state," Commissioner Mark Butler said. "For example, this year, we've seen record numbers of jobs being advertised across the state. We're seeing a lot of jobs may used to pay less than $10 an hour, push up to $14, $15, $16 an hour; though, we're still not seeing those jobs being filled. And if we don't start getting these jobs, feel the economic impact to Georgia's population, our consumers is going to be dramatic."

The people who were outside the office protesting said they've looked for work and they are unable to find it. But starting next week, the commissioner said they'll have to prove they're looking for work.