Local government leaders advise unemployed workers to take advantage of safety net programs

photo of Bill McCamley speaking at lectern
Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley highlighted the efforts of unemployment. He strongly encourages the public to apply for unemployment claims online at New Mexico Workforce Connection. (Ludella Awad/ NM News Port)

By Ludella Awad / NM News Port /

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and New Mexico’s Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley used a public briefing to urge workers displaced by coronavirus closures to take action to receive unemployment assistance. 

The Department of Workforce Solutions is expanding jobless benefits for an estimated 62,000 New Mexicans eligible to file unemployment claims. 

photo of albuquerque mayor tim keller at lectern
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller discusses government finances and safety nets for workers during the coronavirus outbreak, Friday, March 27, 2020 (Photo: Ludella Awad/ NM News Port)

“Now is such a good reminder of how grateful we are that these support systems are in place and we’re also grateful for the leadership at the state level that make them work, ” Keller said 

McCamley said there has been an increase in claims and contacts in the department with over 700 initial claims filed for unemployment since the governor called for social distancing, stay-at-home measures, and the stoppage of all nonessential services. 

McCamley credited congress for passing a $2 trillion dollar bill which, among other things, provides funding for displaced workers. 

The new law will allow those who have access to unemployment benefits currently to receive a higher amount of funds per claim. In addition, individuals who were not eligible previously for unemployment benefits may reapply for unemployment as the law will now include many who were not eligible in the past. 

“On behalf of Governor Lujan Grisham we want to thank everybody for doing the hard things that we need to do in order to prevent the spread of this virus and flatten the curve,” said McCamley. 

Under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, an additional $600 goes to individuals for unemployment benefits on top of what the state already provides.

McCamley strongly encourages displaced workers to apply for unemployment claims online at New Mexico Workforce Connection.

photo of CFO sanjay bhakta at lectern
City of Albuquerque Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Bhakta highlighted a federal relief bill passed through the House and Senate for $2 trillion to support businesses, workers and all U.S. citizens during the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: Ludella Awad/ NM News Port)

City of Albuquerque Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Bhakta also highlighted the $2 trillion relief bill for providing an emergency package for individuals going through economic struggles. This includes payments of $1,200 to each adult and an additional $500 to each child 16 or under.

“We would like to thank our federal delegations who have supported this bill, especially for  smaller states like us,” Bhakta said.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) did not attend the briefing but issued an announcement providing various online resources for local businesses affected by the coronavirus measures.

According to Heinrich, the CARES Act includes $377 billion in small business aid – including up to $10 million in Payment Protection Program loans from the Small Business Administration for small businesses and non-profits with up to 500 employees. These loans can be converted to grants if employers maintain their previous payroll through December 31, 2020.

I am committed to supporting New Mexico’s small business owners throughout this crisis and working with them to rebuild thriving local economies across our state when this is all over,” Heinrich said in the statement.