As The Clock Runs Out On $300 Unemployment Benefits, A New Orleans Waitress Is Left In Limbo

 1533121327 
1626947427
Dora Whitfield poses for a portrait outside of her home in New Orleans, Friday, July 2, 2021. Whitfield volunteers her time educating workers on the benefits of unions and advocates for unemployment reform.

Dora Whitfield poses for a portrait outside of her home in New Orleans, Friday, July 2, 2021. Whitfield volunteers her time educating workers on the benefits of unions and advocates for unemployment reform.

Leslie Gamboni, For The Gulf States Newsroom

When Dora Whitfield bought her house in 2014, she and her husband were so giddy they invited a caravan of family members over to see the place.

It was a hard-earned present she was able to afford because of her job as a buffet waitress at Harrah’s Casino. When Whitfield purchased the three-bedroom home in New Orleans, she broke free from 30 years of living in public housing.

These days, she is praying she does not lose it altogether.

When the pandemic struck, she was laid off and has been getting by on unemployment benefits ever since. Now, the additional federal unemployment benefits that helped her will soon disappear. Louisiana is ending the $300 weekly payments on July 31, following the lead of states like Alabama and Mississippi who cut off the checks in June in hopes of driving up job applications for businesses desperate for workers.

But for Whitfield, returning to work and her pre-pandemic life is not so simple. She is not sure her old job will be restored. If she looks for work elsewhere, she risks not making as much money as she would have earned from her hourly wages and tips at Harrah’s.

“Oh Lord, what should I do?” Whitfield said. “Should I get up with these bad knees and walk around Walmart? Or should I wait on the casino to call?”

Read the full story from our partners at New Orleans Public Radio here.

This story was produced by the Gulf States Newsroom, a collaboration between Mississippi Public Broadcasting, WBHM in Birmingham, Ala., WWNO in New Orleans and NPR.

 

You’re Right, It Has Been Raining More Than Usual This Summer In Birmingham

Rainfall was higher than normal this summer across much of Central Alabama.

Gulf State Schools Had Mask Mandates Last Fall. That Isn’t The Case This Year.

The coronavirus pandemic’s fourth wave has not changed state-wide back-to-school plans in the Gulf South, where cases are rising and mask use is voluntary.

ACLU Of Alabama’s Director Looks To The ‘Next Iteration Of The Civil Rights Movement’

JaTaune Bosby, the first Black woman to lead the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, took the job during a tumultuous time in the country with the pandemic and last year’s summer of racial reckoning.

Jefferson County Commissioners Look For Ways To Stop Illegal Dumping

The amount of illegal dumping of trash in Jefferson County is "concerning," says county commissioners. They say more needs to be done to address the problem, which could include more stringent penalties.

More Extreme Weather In Gulf States Means More Power Outages. Are Energy Companies Ready For It?

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is likely to be as active as last year’s, when thousands in the Gulf South were without power for weeks after hurricanes Laura, Zeta, Cristobal and Delta. With that increased activity comes a bigger threat to the region’s power grid. How prepared are Gulf States’ energy companies for the threat to come?

Alabama Sees ‘Unprecedented’ Surge In COVID-19 Hospitalizations

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the increase is linked to the more contagious Delta variant, coupled with Alabama’s low vaccination rate.

More Coronavirus Coverage