Millions of workers face jobless benefits cliff with lifeline set to expire

Meanwhile, the U.S. is inching closer to a Dec. 31 deadline when several key federal jobless aid programs created under the March CARES Act will be cut off entirely. If the government doesn’t pass legislation, more than half of those receiving unemployment benefits — about 13.4 million people — stand to be left with no income.

“We’re making a deeply fundamental mistake not reauthorizing all our unemployment insurance programs,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), vice chair of Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, told POLITICO. “When we take the money away, that’s what’s been propping up consumer spending and the ability of people to get by.”

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a new program that has provided jobless benefits to gig workers and others not traditionally eligible for help, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which extends state unemployment benefits an additional 13 weeks, are both set to lapse at the end of the year. Another program — Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation — provided an extra $600 a week in jobless aid for four months before it expired on July 31, and Democrats are pushing to restore it.

Those workers “don’t know how they’re going to make it through the month,” Rep. Steven Horsford (D-N.V.) said. “I have nearly 200,000 Nevadans who are contacting my office on a regular basis and other members of our delegation to express their anxiety with the situation.”

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