$ 600 Weekly Without Benefits, Unemployed Face Foggy Options


When Latrish Osko lost his job last spring, government aid helped prevent a crisis from becoming a catastrophe.

The $ 1,700 federal incentive payment meant that when her 26-year-old car broke down, she could replace it. The federal government’s additional $ 600 a week in unemployment benefits allowed him to pay rent and buy food. When her day care provider stopped, she was able to get her 4-year-old daughter to subscribe to ABCmouse, an online learning app.

But federal money has gone out, and in Washington it is discussed how to change it.

Therefore, 39-year-old Ms. Oseko is spending most of her time sitting in a Delaware hotel room where she has lived since her landlord moved out in late July, seeing the debate over local applications for a job on her phone She does. news.

“I am watching it because I want to know if there is hope for me?” he said. “They are fighting, and I have to see them fighting, but they have room to sleep at night.”

Until a few days ago, most analysts expected Congress to agree on a new emergency spending bill that would include at least a partial extension of additional unemployment benefits, perhaps including retrospective payments for periods when the program missed. .

But negotiations stalled, and in an appearance at his golf club in New Jersey on Friday, President Trump said that if a deal was not reached, he would issue an executive order extending additional benefits in one form or the other. It is not clear whether it has the authority to do so or how long it will take to initiate payments if the states receive benefits.

Of the 30 million Americans who rely on unemployment benefits, it may already be too late to prevent permanent financial losses. Those without an additional $ 600 a week, who ran out at the end of July, would be required to receive regular state unemployment benefits, often totaling a few hundred dollars a week or less. For many families, this will not be enough to prevent eviction, hunger, or increasing debt that will make it harder to get out of the hole.

Households and the macroeconomy are particularly vulnerable at this time. Expulsion postponements are ending or have ended in most parts of the country, although Mr. Trump threatened to bypass Congress to reinstate a partial federal moratorium. The paycheck protection program, which helped thousands of small businesses to retain workers, ends this week.

There are already signs that the economy has slowed down this summer as virus cases have increased in the country. On Friday, the Labor Department reported a net profit of 1.8 million jobs in July, a slight increase compared to May or June. Many economists warned that layoffs could resume without more government support. Food banks say they are ready for a new wave of demand.

Prior to the epidemic, Ms. Oseko and her family were ending, even though with little margin for error. He earned $ 15 per hour as a data entry contractor. Her boyfriend earned a low-cleaning dormitory at the University of Delaware. They were able to rent a two-bedroom house near a park where their daughter could play.

When the epidemic hit, Ms. Oseko’s hours were cut off and her boyfriend unconscious. Then, in May, she lost her job altogether. In the midst of that crisis, another person appeared: their landlord sold him the building and gave them 60 days to leave. They moved out last week and are burning through their meager savings at a rate of $ 76 a night at a Delaware motel that is filling up with families in the same forecast.

Without a job, Ms. Oseko cannot get a new apartment; Without an apartment, it has become difficult to find a job.

He said, “The jobs I am eligible for, I want to work from home, but I do not have a home.”

The economic crisis caused by the epidemic has inconsistently affected low-paid workers like Ms. Oseko whose savings are very low. Last recession research found that when unemployment benefits ran out, people cut their spending on food, medicine, and other necessities, suggesting they were less capable of preparing for a drop in income.

The more generous benefits offered during this recession may have allowed families to save some money, but those savings will not last long, especially when food prices are rising at the fastest pace in years.

As a result, families are being forced to make decisions with lasting results.

When Jason DePartis and his fiance lost a Florida restaurant job in early March, they fell behind on their rent and car payments. The $ 600 unemployment supplement was a lifeline, allowing him to hold onto his home and his car. But on July 28, that lifeline wreaked havoc: the repo man showed up for the car on the day his landlord gave three days notice of the eviction.

With an additional $ 600 a week, Mr. Deprisis, 42, will probably be able to pay enough to close both creditors. Without it, he had to choose. He paid $ 650 to evict his landlord, and saw the car from afar.

But it was a terrible time to lose the car. He started a job in a restaurant in September, but it is 45 minutes away, and there is no bus service that matches his hours. The nearest food bank is 30 minutes away, and cannot get there without a vehicle. He said that he does not know how he and his fiancée would put food on the table for both themselves and their children.

“Without $ 600, there’s absolutely no way that my family is going to make it,” he said.

For families like Mr. DePratis, even a temporary loss of income could be the beginning of a downward spiral, said Elizabeth Annat, a Barnard College economist who studies the impact of the epidemic on low-paid workers. are doing. Wealthy families may be able to save until the Congress makes a deal. But for low-income households, even temporary lapses in benefits can have lasting consequences. An eviction can make it difficult to hire in the future. Having a car repository can make it difficult to get another job. And for children, periods of hunger, homelessness, and stress can have long-term effects on development and learning.

“Children cannot smooth their meals throughout the year,” Ms. Anat said. “Families who do not have access to debt cannot smooth their food, their electricity, their needs.”

Many Republicans argue that the recipients of the extra benefits were kept in search of work, especially because many were getting higher on unemployment than they were at work. Business owners have complained that they are struggling to fill positions.

But many studies have found no evidence that the supplement was discouraging job hunting, and many workers were Appear to accept jobs Even when the salary is less than their unemployment benefits. And by injecting billions of dollars into the economy each week, the profits certainly prevent even more layoffs.

Missing benefits will prompt some people to return to work. But this decision can also bear the cost.

When the epidemic struck, Enrique Guzman, a fleet service clerk at Los Angeles International Airport, was given the option: to work or stay home and receive a portion of his income, equivalent to 10 hours a week.

Mr. Guzman, 27, chose to stay at home. He has asthma, which puts him at a high risk of complications to catch coronovirus, and he lives with his girlfriend and her mother, who is 51 years old, which makes her vulnerable to the virus. Between unemployment benefits and a partial paycheck from the airline, he was able to bring in $ 1,050 a week – at least he was working full-time, but enough to support his girlfriend and her mother.

But without the extra money, Mr. Guzman can no longer afford the $ 1,875 rent for his two-bedroom apartment in Monteclo, California, plus the cost of utilities, food, and his student and car loan payments.

On Monday, with a feeling of drowning in his stomach, he put on his uniform and returned to the airport for his first innings since the epidemic began. Mr. Guzman said he had no other choice.

“It was not something I wanted to do, but I’m the only income in my house now and I needed to go back to work so that we could pay our rent, pay our bills,” he said. “I’m putting myself at risk so that we can stay ahead.”