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Unemployment assistance will run out of millions: “People will be desperate”

Millions of unemployed Americans faced a “plateau” of income in July when the extra $ 600 in unemployment benefits ended. But millions more are now facing another – and perhaps even harder – hit in their income as they consume all of their unemployment options at both the state and federal levels.

“People say, ‘Oh my god, I’m running out of money,’ and they have no idea what’s coming,” said Alex Emanuel, a New York-based actor, filmmaker and musician. two months ago.

The issue is affecting a range of workers, including those who lost their jobs by the end of 201

9 and went through numerous unemployment assistance extensions provided by Congress this year. Gig-economy workers and others who tapped into the federal Unemployment Pandemic (PUA) program in the early stages of the crisis will also soon run out of help.

These benefits are not particularly generous – the typical weekly unemployment check costs $ 333 a week – but unemployed adults tell CBS MoneyWatch that extra money has helped them to pay for needs such as utilities and rent.

Unemployed workers also say they failed in underemployment In Washington, DC, marching others stimulus bill, which renewed the extra $ 600 in weekly assistance, and they expressed concern about coping as their benefits dried up. Cutoffs could create more economic headwinds because millions of unemployed workers find themselves unemployed, according to unemployment experts.

“I’m really worried about what will happen when $ 600 is lost, but when people lose even the basic benefit, people will be desperate,” said Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst at National Employment Law Project. “You’ll see this disease spread over and over again in the economy.”

Unemployment claims rose last week


While there are no hard numbers on how many unemployed workers are losing their unemployment assistance, the figure is likely to run into the millions over the next few months, according to Andrew Stettner, an expert in unemployment at the progressive Century Foundation.

For example, PUA offers a 39-week salary for people who have lost their gigs or freelance jobs starting January 27, which means the first claimants will lose their benefits by the week of October 19. Meanwhile, all of the 11 million recipients of the program are having a deadline of December 31, when the program is scheduled to expire.

Even extensions for unemployment assistance are not enough to protect the unemployed Americans from while unemployment remains high, said Chad Stone, chief economist of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities . The CARES Act has lifted 18 million people out of poverty, but many have slipped since the extra money expired, according to researchers at Columbia University. The level of poverty is now higher than the previous pandemic, they found.

“The steps in the CARES Act are pretty generous,” Stone said. Losing benefits “will be hit hard, and people will be shocked.”

“Makes absolutely zero”

Workers who lost their jobs in the second half of 2019 were among the first to run out of aid. “I filed for unemployment in August of 2019 due to lack of acting at that time,” New York-based unemployed actor Emanuel, 49, told CBS MoneyWatch. “My claim ended first in April, and then they have these extensions” because of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES, Act.

But after running out of all his extensions, his payless job ended in August. “I make absolutely zero,” he said.

Emanuel said he was cut off from benefits within a month. Because New Yorkers can file for more unemployment assistance after a full calendar year has elapsed since their previous unemployment claim, he or she applied for assistance again. He now earns about $ 170 a week after taxes – less than the $ 230 he received in his previous round of unemployment assistance. That is because the benefit is based on the earnings of the previous worker in a year, which hit from the pandemic. He said he reduced markets and transportation costs to survive.

Joe Symon wrote a play that was about to start production on March 13, but when the pandemic closed businesses – including cinemas and TV productions in New York – his show was canceled and he resumed unemployment. . He said he reduced spending and was getting help from family to achieve, but was worried about losing his unemployment benefits in March 2021.

Joe Symon

Some people are already worried about ending their unemployment benefits. Joe Symon, 53, an actor in New York, said his benefits would end in March, and he was unsure how he would deduct more than he already had. He said he earns about $ 130 in weekly unemployment assistance, and his family helps pay the rent.

“It’s very hard to smile or go about daily business, including sleeping in bed, if you don’t know where your next dollar is coming from,” Symon said.

“I said I ran out of everything”

Another unemployed worker whose work expired recently was Mary Cahoon, 43, of Oakdale, Connecticut. She was fired in March from her job as an administrative assistant when the pandemic hit. His benefits ended last week.

“I said I ran out of everything,” she said.

Cahoon said he put in a little money when he received the extra $ 600 in weekly unemployment assistance. After expiring in July, his unemployment check fell to $ 317 a week, or about $ 200 less than he earned from his job. He said he sent almost 100 resumes and reached 10 interviews, but has not yet received an offer.

“I’m not too shocked right now – we’re better than a lot of people,” Cahoon said, citing his wife working. But he worries that the money he is allocating this summer will run out before he can find a new job or if a new round of stimulus aid is extended.

“Right now things are covered up,” he said, “but it will also run out later.”

Tricky programs

Some unemployed workers may not be aware that they qualify for certain extensions, such as Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC, which provides an additional 13 weeks of assistance to unemployed workers who have run out of their regular state benefits, experts said.

Nearly 3 million workers lost their normal state benefits by August, but only 2 million were in the extensions offered under the CARES Act. Indicating that some people may have lost benefits, Stettner said.

“There have been drop-offs and confusion about making that transition from state benefits to extensions,” he added.

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Eligibility for the PEUC is an issue facing Shawnda Rice, 40, a bartender in Cincinnati. His bar has been shut down since March, when he filed for unemployment. He said he stopped receiving state benefits three weeks ago, but said he did not qualify for the PEUC. He was later informed that he was, in fact, eligible for the program. Now that Rice finds himself in limbo, not sure if he will receive more help.

“I’m stressed,” he said. “I don’t know where the money is coming from. When the bill was reached last week, I called and asked for an extension.”

Rice is also worried about how he will pay the bills over the next few months and if his stock store is low. He hopes his bar could reopen for Halloween, but he is also concerned about COVID-19 given that he has recurring issues with pleurisy, a lung disease. It allows bar patrons to remove their masks to drink indoors, which can increase the risk of infection.

Asked what he would say to lawmakers now negotiating a new stimulus package, until now that it had not been done, Rice said: “It’s not just about you. The important thing is to take care of Americans. . “

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