Almost 14 million Americans are receiving unemployment assistance from pandemic programs like the emergency CARES Act. According to the Labor Department, those benefits will expire the day after Christmas. The national average for weekly benefits was $317 in October. After the benefits expire, many Americans will struggle with paying for food and rent.
Coronavirus cases continue to rise, and many cities face a second lockdown, leaving many without a chance to go back to work. According to Reuters, 9.1 million people are enrolled in pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA). Many are freelancers and self-employed. 4.5 million people receive benefits under the pandemic emergency unemployment compensation (PEUC), which allows people to collect funds 13 weeks after they have run out of state benefits.
Both programs will expire the day after Christmas. Congress has not agreed on a second round of stimulus checks for the country. 17 states and the District of Columbia will extend benefits until the end of December, according to Century Foundation. Those states are Alaska, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennslyvania, Rhode Island, and Washington.
“With the stakes of the benefit cutoff perhaps higher than they have ever been before, there also seems to be a grave danger that unemployed Americans could be left behind during a lame-duck session taking place in the overhang of a contested presidential election,” a 2011 study said. “But the numbers – and families behind them – leave no excuses for inaction.”