Two critical unemployment programs are set to expire at the end of the year, potentially leaving millions of Americans vulnerable to eviction and hunger and threatening to short-circuit an economic recovery that has already lost momentum, writes The New York Times’s Ben Casselman.
Here’s a breakdown of what’s at stake:
As many as 13 million people are receiving payments under the programs, which Congress created last spring to expand and extend the regular unemployment system during the pandemic.
Leaders of both major parties have expressed support for renewing the programs in some form, but Congress has been unable to reach a deal to do so. It remains unclear how the results of Tuesday’s election will affect prospects for an agreement.
The programs are some of the last vestiges of the trillions of dollars in aid that included direct checks to most U.S. households, $600 a week in supplemental unemployment benefits and hundreds of billions of dollars in support for small businesses.
Much of that assistance expired over the summer, however. Economic gains have slowed significantly since then, and studies have found that millions of Americans fell into poverty as aid dried up.
The year-end benefits cliff could be even more damaging. Many families have depleted any savings they built when the $600 supplement was available. A partial federal eviction moratorium is scheduled to expire at the end of the year, although it could be extended. And benefits checks won’t just shrink, as they did over the summer — they will disappear.
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