Nearly 3 million Americans may have stopped getting unemployment benefits after Christmas — despite delayed passage of a COVID-19 relief bill, CNBC reported Thursday.
Labor Department data showed that between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2, more than 1.7 million people dropped off the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which pays benefits to self-employed, gig, part-time, and other workers, CNBC reported.
Roughly 1.1 million stopped getting benefits from the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which offered extra aid to those who ran out of their standard allotment of state benefits, the news outlet noted.
According to CNBC, jobless benefits offered through the two temporary CARES Act programs were set to lapse the last weekend in December — a “cliff” that would deny income support to millions of workers without federal intervention.
And though Congress finally passed a $900 billion package Dec. 21 that extended benefits for the long-term unemployed into March, President Donald Trump didn’t sign it until Dec. 27 — missing a deadline to avert the “cliff,” the news outlet reported.
CNBC reported that other programs haven’t picked up much of the slack.
Though states offer extended benefits during times of high unemployment, only 83,000 people rolled into that program from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2 — and benefits were available in just 20 states as of Jan. 2, CNBC reported.
“It’s a totally egregious way to govern, that we let these programs lapse and then people just fall through the cracks,” Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, and a former chief economist at the Labor Department, told CNBC. “People are living week to week.”
The economy shed 140,000 jobs in December, the first drop since millions fell off payrolls in April as the coronavirus pandemic choked businesses, CNBC reported — and some 1.2 million people filed a new application for state jobless benefits two weeks ago, a level above the peak of the Great Recession, CNBC reported.
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