COVID unemployment benefits end Labor Day

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 10:27 AM CDT
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(CNN) – Millions of Americans are bracing for an uncertain future when their federal pandemic-era unemployment benefits end on Labor Day, less than two weeks away.

It comes during a time where the end of the pandemic – and its economic impact – are nowhere in sight.

The loss of those unemployment benefits is especially concerning for the millions who depend on them.

Gustavo Maria said he’s “really scared.”

For Michael Kittle, “That’s been one thing that’s constantly given me anxiety,” he said.

According to Giselle Manzano, the thought of losing her pandemic unemployment benefits has meant a lot of sleepless nights.

The federal pandemic unemployment benefits, which helped many survive an unprecedented economic crisis, are ending on Sept. 5 for some 7.5 million recipients.

The timing couldn’t be worse for Maria.

“My daughter is a couple of weeks from being born,” he said.

This comes in a year where he’s lost two jobs, broke a bone in his leg and saw the family car repossessed.

In less than two weeks, he will lose all unemployment benefits.

“My inner voice is me yelling and screaming, trying to see, ‘What I’m going to. What I’m going to do. What I’m going to do,’” a frustrated Maria said.

It’s a question millions of Americans will have to answer.

For Maria, his injury makes his previous $15 an hour jobs working in warehouses painful.

While out of work, he’s been teaching himself about computers, hoping he can land a desk job.

“I just don’t want to be in a warehouse every day,” he said. “So, I’m trying to better myself.”

There are a record 10 million job openings in the United States, with millions of people still looking for work.

“It’s frustrating because there are any number of jobs that I could go in and do, but not all of them can support me,” Kittle said, a Broadway graphic designer who’s been out of work since last year.

He says he applies to 50 jobs a week but is still waiting for a callback.

“It’s been rough,” he said.

If he still doesn’t have a graphic design job come Sept. 5, Kittle said he’ll pick up shifts at a restaurant, although he doesn’t like the thought of doing it.

“We’re still in a pandemic. The idea of being close to hundreds of strangers a day, even while being vaccinated, that’s not something that appeals to me in any way,” he said.

Cutting aid does not necessarily mean people are going back to work.

States that ended unemployment benefits early between April and July saw a nearly 1% jump in overall job growth.

But states that kept the benefits in place saw job gains of half a percent more.

Manzano said her benefits help provide for her large family, including her mom, dad, sister and goddaughter.

Since she lost her banking job earlier this year, savings and unemployment have kept the family afloat.

Manzano will lose an extra $300 in weekly benefits after Labor Day.

“I thought I had everything covered and then savings are gone,” she said. “There’s no retirement money. My life insurance policies set up for the kids, as well as myself, it’s gone.”

Despite the physical pain of working on his feet 8 hours a day, Maria said the financial pain without unemployment is worse.

“I would do any type of job that needs to go along with providing for my family,” he said.

Congress enacted the federal unemployment benefits boost in March of last year and were extended a year later to September.

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