Pandemic Unemployment Ends Leaving Many Americans with Uncertain Future

Data News Staff Edited Report

Another blow during the COVID-19 Crisis is taking place as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Program ended on September 7, 2021, leaving millions across the nation to wonder how they’ll make ends meet for their families.

Its been estimated that 7.5 million people will be affected, according to calculations by the Century Foundation, a progressive think tank. Also, an additional 2.1 million unemployed people will lose the $300 per week federal supplement.

Since the start of the Pandemic, the government has spent almost $800 billion in unemployment assistance, intended as short-term measures to support households and keep the economy going.

The programs included Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which kicked in after regular state unemployment benefits expired, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which was extended to gig workers who were not normally eligible for benefits.

But COVID-19 has more patience than Washington, which appears to have little appetite to extend the benefits, even as the Delta Variant rages.

Food stamps and the child tax credit can avert destitution, but many people are in harm’s way now.

Business and political leaders looking at the math of the 8.4 million unemployed and over 10 million open positions have predicted a flood of applicants when benefits end. The data tells a different story.

For every eight workers who lost benefits, only one found a job, according to recent research.

The leading reasons why the unemployed aren’t taking jobs have little to do with government money and everything to do with the health and economic crisis: childcare scarcity and cost, fear of getting or spreading COVID-19, and taking care of someone with the disease or getting sick themselves, according to the latest Census survey.

A study by JPMorgan Chase shows that the immediate result of the end of benefits is not a rush to work, but a sharp decrease in household spending.

gThe average person can’t find a job right away and will have cutbacks, said Till von Wachter, Professor of Economics at the University of California Los Angeles.

The main issue is that funds were established with a deadline given by politicians and do not adjust, even if economic conditions don’t improve or worsen, he said.

We wouldn’t be in this mess if we had a functional system of extended benefits that responded to local conditions on the ground,h von Wachter said.

Jordan Motteler, 30, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, hasn’t worked since she and her husband were laid off in March 2020. She wants to work but can’t take the risk because she and her daughter are immunocompromised. Her husband, laid off from Lowes, has started to pick up some work as a plumber’s apprentice. But the hours and wages are lower than his previous job. The family is applying for rent and utility assistance from a local community organization.

gA lot of us live paycheck to paycheck just hoping we have enough to get everything our kids need, not even ourselves, Motteler said.

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