How People Are Scraping By After Expiration Of Federal Unemployment Aid NPR checks back with three people who lost their jobs during the pandemic to see how they are managing after federal unemployment assistance lapsed this summer.
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How People Are Scraping By After Expiration Of Federal Unemployment Aid

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How People Are Scraping By After Expiration Of Federal Unemployment Aid

How People Are Scraping By After Expiration Of Federal Unemployment Aid

How People Are Scraping By After Expiration Of Federal Unemployment Aid

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/909793738/909793748" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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NPR checks back with three people who lost their jobs during the pandemic to see how they are managing after federal unemployment assistance lapsed this summer.

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

During most of this pandemic, a lot of unemployed Americans got some extra unemployment benefits from the federal government - a flat $600 every week.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

That funding expired at the end of July. Congress hasn't renewed it. So millions of people are scraping by with a lot less. In some places, the state unemployment benefit is just $250 a week.

PFEIFFER: Emily Guill worked at a hotel in Oregon before the pandemic. When we talked to her in July, she worried she might lose her housing. This week, we called to check in.

EMILY GUILL: Well, actually, there have been some big changes. After the extra $600 ran out and my savings was gone and I was staring down the barrel of rent due, I decided to break my lease and move out of state, back in with my parents.

PFEIFFER: Guill worried about racking up debt.

GUILL: I had a great career. I had friends. I had a life there. And now I just gave away everything I owned so that I could move back in with my parents. I'm still looking for a job and getting nothing in response. I'm not really sure what the future holds.

CORNISH: In Arizona, Alicia Gonzalez told us in July that she was struggling even with that $600. Her boyfriend had to ration his medicine.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: I thought things couldn't get worse. It's just - it's gotten bad within that little bit of time.

PFEIFFER: In August, there was a moment when things were looking up. Alicia got a job at Walmart managing how many customers come in and enforcing mask rules.

GONZALEZ: That whole day, like, I was thinking, like, OK, I got this job. Everything's going to be peachy. Everything's going to be - you know, we're going to be OK. But then I thought, like, you know, some people are crazy. That's really, like, up close and personal. Like, people can be, like, you know, like - no, I didn't feel safe enough.

CORNISH: Alicia decided she couldn't put her family at risk like that and turned the job down. She's going to keep looking.

PFEIFFER: In August, President Trump signed an order to divert money from FEMA to boost unemployment benefits. That's $300 a week instead of $600.

CORNISH: It's temporary, just through September, and it's taking a while to get the money in people's hands.

PFEIFFER: Kim Robinson worked for a staffing agency before she got laid off. She lives in Louisiana, where she searched relentlessly for a new job. She says $300 barely makes a dent.

KIM ROBINSON: It's hot, you know, so of course the energy bill is going up. Just your light bill alone could be $200 or $300.

CORNISH: Robinson is still hopeful Congress will act.

ROBINSON: Hopefully they'll hear our cries. With everything going on in America, it's - they could at least help the American people because we are the economy, you know?

PFEIFFER: Talks on the next coronavirus relief bill remain at a standstill.

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