Unemployment offices full of furloughed workers

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WVEC.com

Posted on October 2, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 2 at 6:41 PM

NORFOLK -- While the government focuses on a solution, furloughed employees at the unemployment office focus on the future of their families.

Many of them were already suffering from the effects of sequestration when the government shutdown put them out of work completely.

Bonney Ellington took her future into her own hands Wednesday morning.

She says, "I just have to get back to work. I have to work."

Ellington submits her application for unemployment not knowing how much longer the shutdown will last.

What she does know is that her disabled husband needs her.

Ellington says she was already suffering from sequestration. "I lost about $500 a month. It was a big amount."

Skip Edwards was also a victim of sequestration and the furlough. He sits in his suit at the last available computer in the room. 

Edwards says, "A lot of us have gone to one or two days of work and now we've lost everything."

He's one of the more than 70 people who have walked through the doors of the Virginia Employment Commission in the last 48 hours. The walk into this room has made him reassess what he considers a stable living. 

He says, "I was given an offer today for Barber College, believe it or not. It makes you think of things that you would have never thought of before." 

He is part of the sandwich generation; He takes care of his parents and his kids. 

"My mom and dad aren't doing well medically, so I try to send as much money as I can home but I can't do it if I'm collecting $285 a week on unemployment."

Warren Smith, III is also taking care of his children. After years at the shipyard he, too, did not see the shutdown coming. 

"They would tell me work would slow down but not that we wouldn't work at all." 

"People have bills to pay and kids to take care of," says Smith.

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