Furloughed and then fired from car dealership, Austin woman shares pandemic frustrations

Investigations

In this Sunday, June 7, 2020, photograph, a long row of unsold 2020 Countryman sports-utility vehicles sits at a Mini dealership in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — There’s a story behind each unemployment claim in Texas, and it’s often frustrating.

Take Erica Vasquez, for example.

In hindsight, she wishes she was just fired earlier in the year, but instead, her employer — a car dealership — furloughed her for almost three months.

She was then fired around May 27.

“From January to where we are now, they led me on,” Vasquez said Friday.

Vasquez was a service advisor at the dealership before being switched to sales. The new job hunt is frustrating, too.

Having fixed cars of her own, her skillset is specialized, so jobs are limited.

“I’m kind of like just stuck sitting here,” she said. “It’s very limited of what you can even do.”

Overall, more than 3.1 million Texans have filed for unemployment and more than $11.9 billion has been paid out in benefits.

Texas Workforce Commission spokesman Cisco Gamez also noted Friday that the average weekly benefit amount, excluding the $600/week as part of the federal CARES Act, is $426.

That data is as of March 2020, the most recent available.

As for Vasquez, she is receiving unemployment benefits. But health care is another issue.

On a June 8 trip to the pharmacy, she was told she no longer had insurance.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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