PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – The line at the Christian Food Pantry in Plano on Monday was long and steady but when the pantry’s founder, Walt Webking, looked out at the line, he said he sees a reason for optimism.
“I’ve very optimistic. I knew the economy is good but I had no idea it was like this,” he said.
Webking said Monday’s line pales in comparison to the line just two weeks ago when his pantry was handing out food to more than 1,600 families a week – many who had never needed the help before.
Last week his pantry will help close to 1,200 families – the same amount it was helping before the pandemic.
“People don’t come here because they want to. They come here because they have to,” Webking said. “They are now going back to work and can afford to feed their family.”
As businesses reopened, the national unemployment rate for May dropped to 13.3%.
Last month, the economy gained 2.5 million jobs. It was the largest monthly gain in new jobs since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the data in 1939.
As a result of the job market recovering quicker than anticipated, many in Congress want to dial back on some pandemic stimulus benefits.
The extra $600 federal unemployment benefit is set to expire July 25th. It now seems unlikely that Congress will extend the benefit. The $600 is on top of the amount distributed by the state.
Meanwhile, a second stimulus check also now seems unlikely.
One pandemic stimulus benefit that will not be going away is the 13 extension of unemployment benefits, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Under traditional unemployment insurance, claimants can receive up to 26 weeks of benefits. The CARES Act extended benefits to 39 weeks.
Webking said he believes the worst of the economic downturn is behind us but added his pantry will be there just in case he is wrong.
“We’re here. They can always come get food,” he said.