The unemployment benefits, availed by millions of jobless Americans, ended on Monday, harshly affecting those who are still reeling under the financial implications due to the year-and-a-half-old coronavirus pandemic.
The jobless aid to self-employed and gig workers and benefits for those who have been unemployed for more than six months expired on Monday. Further, the Joe Biden administration's $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit also ended. Around 8.9 million Americans will lose all or some of these benefits.
No state has opted to keep paying the $300 weekly benefit by using money from the stimulus bills, despite the White House suggestions. The main reason is the complaint of some businesses that they could not find enough people to hire.
The programs end as the US economy has shown signs of recovery from the pandemic, but still has substantial gaps. According to a report by the Labour Department, the US job market still needs to add 5.7 million jobs to reach the pre-pandemic level.
The jobless benefits during the Great Recession were extended in various forms from the start of the recession in 2008-2009 all the way until 2013. When those benefits finally ended, just 1.3 million people were still receiving aid. So the current benefits have not even lasted that much time.
Americans who still need the support will find a smaller patchwork of social support programs, both at the state level and through the federal government.
The White House had approved a 25% increase in food stamp assistance, also known as SNAP benefits, last month. That increase will continue indefinitely for those 42.7 million Americans who receive those payments.
While the federal eviction moratorium has expired, roughly a dozen states — all controlled by Democrats — have extended their moratoriums, including California, New York, Washington, Illinois, and Minnesota. New York's eviction moratorium was extended until January 15.
The Biden administration also pushed the restart of federal student loan repayments until January. Those were supposed to have restarted this month.
Those unemployed less than six months will still be able to collect their benefits, but the amount will fall back to the level that each state pays. The average weekly check is roughly $387, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, but varies greatly state by state.
(With AP inputs)