“People say, ‘Oh my God, I’m running out of money, and they have no idea what’s to come,'” said Alex Emanuel, a New York actor, filmmaker and musician whose unemployment assistance dried up two months ago. Went .
The issue is affecting workers, including those who lost their jobs at the end of 2019 and went through several unemployment assistance extensions provided by Congress earlier this year. Gig-economy workers and others who used the federal Epidemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program early in the crisis are also about to exit aid.
These benefits are not particularly generous – the usual weekly unemployment check amount of $ 333 per week – but working adults outside told CBS MoneyWatch that the extra money helped them pay for necessities such as utilities and rent.
Unemployed workers also say they are frustrated by the lack of progress, in Washington, DC, when the other is fired Incentive bill, Which would have renewed an additional $ 600 in weekly aid, and they expressed concern about coping as their benefit. According to unemployment experts, the cutoff could create more economic headwinds as millions of unemployed workers find themselves without income.
“I was really worried about what would happen when the $ 600 would go away, but people are going to get desperate when they lose base benefits too,” said Michelle Evermore, senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. “You’ll see this pain spread further into the economy.”
While there are no concrete figures on how many unemployed workers are losing jobless aid, the figure is likely to run into millions within the next few months, according to Andrew Stattner, an expert on unemployment at the Progressive Century Foundation.
For example, PUA offered 39 weeks of pay for those who lost their gigs or freelance work starting on January 27, meaning the first contender ended their benefits in the week of October 19 Will give Meanwhile, all 11 million recipients of the program face hard work. Deadline of December 31, when the program is about to end.
Even with the expansion for unemployment aid, it is not enough to protect unemployed Americans while unemployment is high, Chad Stone, chief economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. According to researchers at Columbia University, the CARES Act lifted 18 million people out of poverty, but many have returned that extra money. Poverty rates are now higher than they were before the epidemic, they found.
“The CARES Act measures were very lenient,” Stone said. The loss of benefits is “hard work, and people may be surprised.”
“Make absolute zero”
Workers who lost their jobs in the second half of 2019 are among the first to drop out of aid. New York actor Emanuel said, “I filed for unemployment in August of 2019 due to lack of timely acting work,” CBS MoneyWatch said. “My claim initially expired in April, and then they had these extensions” due to the Coronavirus AIDS, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES, Act.
But after ending all his extensions, his unemployed salary expired in August. “I was making absolute zeros,” he said.
Emanuel said that he was cut from profit for a month. Because New Yorkers can file for more unemployed aid after a full calendar year has passed from their prior unemployment claim, they applied again for assistance. He is now receiving $ 170 a week after taxes – less than the $ 230 he received in a prior round of unemployed assistance. This is because the profit is based on the previous year’s earnings of a worker who took a hit from the epidemic. He said he is cutting back on groceries and transportation costs.
Some people are already spreading the end of their unemployment benefits. 53-year-old Joe Simone, an actor in New York, said his benefits would expire in March, and he is unsure how he could cut back more than before. He said he is receiving about $ 130 in weekly unemployed assistance, and that his family is helping pay his rent.
“It’s very difficult to smile or go about daily business, including getting up from bed, if you don’t know where your next dollar is going to come from,” Simon said.
“They said I finished everything”
Another unemployed worker whose assistance has recently expired is 43-year-old Mary Cahoon of Oakdale, Connecticut. He was fired as an administrative assistant in March after the outbreak of the epidemic. He benefited last week.
“They said I finished everything,” she said.
Kahoon said she set aside some money when she received an additional $ 600 in weekly unemployed assistance. After ending in July, her unemployment check dropped to $ 317 a week, or about $ 200 less than her job income. She said that she has sent about 100 resumes and has given 10 interviews, but has not received any offers.
“I’m not too nervous – we’re better than many,” Kahoon said, noting that her husband is employed. But she worries that the money he will put up this summer will be gone before he gets a new job or a new round of stimulus assistance will be extended.
“Right now things are covered,” he said, “but he’s finally about to get out.”
Some unemployed workers may not be aware that they qualify for certain extensions, such as epidemic emergency unemployment compensation, or PEUC, which would provide an additional 13 weeks of assistance to unemployed workers to offset their regular state benefits. Is, experts said.
About 3 million workers have exhausted their general state benefits through August, but only 2 million are on extensions provided under the CARS Act. There are suggestions that some people may be missing out on the benefits, Stettner said.
“There is a drop-off and confusion about the move from state benefits to extensions,” he said.
Eligibility for PEUC, Shinka Rice, 40, is facing a bartender in Cincinnati. His bar has closed since March, filed for unemployment. She said she stopped receiving state benefits three weeks ago, but was told she was not eligible for PEUC. She was later told that she was indeed eligible for the program. Now Rice finds himself in limbo, unsure if he will get any more help.
“I insisted,” he said. “I don’t know where the money is coming from. When the bill came due for this last week, I called and asked for an extension.”
Rice also worries about how she will pay the bills in the next few months and when her groceries run low. She hopes her bar may reopen for Halloween, but she is also concerned about COVID-19, noting that she has recurrent issues with pleural, lung disease. Bar patrons are allowed to remove their masks for drinking indoors, which may increase the risk of infection.
Asked what he would tell lawmakers who are now negotiating a new stimulus package to no avail, Rice said: “It’s not just about you. What it means to the American people keeps.”