Millions are struggling to make ends meet without the $600 federal unemployment benefit. They're blaming lawmakers who went on recess without a new stimulus deal.

Millions are struggling to make ends meet without the $600 federal unemployment benefit. They're blaming lawmakers who went on recess without a new stimulus deal.
Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
  • More than 27 million Americans are still receiving some sort of unemployment benefit, but many are struggling to make ends meet now that the additional $600 a week federal unemployment boost expired.
  • Many told the Washington Post they're frustrated at Congressional lawmakers for failing to agree on a new coronavirus stimulus package that could have helped them.
  • Many also don't see much support coming from an executive order signed by President Donald Trump that would have added a $300 federal unemployment boost.
  • Only four states have so far begun paying out that federal increase.

On August 1, after the additional $600 a week federal unemployment boost expired, around 28 million Americans were still relying on unemployment payments. Many of them are now struggling to make ends meet.

At least 20 of those individuals who went from receiving $900 a week to around $300 a week told The Washington Post that they blame congressional lawmakers for failing to come to a new deal that could support them.

Shawn Gabriel's and his two kids are now living off of $189 a week, which does not come close to covering their expenses. Gabriel is also facing a potential eviction.
Advertisement
He's frustrated that lawmakers couldn't come to a deal to help assist the millions of people who need unemployment benefits to address their needs.

"Most of them are rich. They don't struggle. They get paid," Gabriel told the Post. "I think they should have come to an agreement."

At the end of July, Senate Democrats blocked a Republican bill that would have extended federal unemployment benefits but cut the $600 a week amount to $200 through the rest of 2020. The bill never made it to the House of Representatives.
Advertisement

Senate Republicans also shut down a $3 trillion stimulus measure Democrats tried to pass. The measure was approved in the House in May and would have included an extension on the full $600 a week benefit until January 2021.

Republicans said it was too costly and broad. On Thursday Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows haven't made any progress on reaching a deal on a new coronavirus stimulus package during a call, CNN reported. Gabriel, who voted for Trump in 2016 told the Post that while he doesn't necessarily like Democrats, he blames Republicans for the lack of a relief package. "I blame [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell the most," Gabriel told the Post. "At least [Pelosi] was trying four months ago."
Advertisement

The labor market is still in bad shape

On Thursday, the Labor Department announced that more than one million Americans filed new claims for unemployment last week. More than 27 million Americans are now receiving some sort of unemployment assistance.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump signed four executive orders that were meant to assist with coronavirus relief, after Congress couldn't agree on a new package. One of the orders was for a $400 weekly boost to federal unemployment benefits, 25% of which he said would be up to the states to pay.

However, as of Thursday, three weeks since Trump signed the order, only four states were paying out the additional federal boost.
Advertisement

While the federal government approved a majority of states to set up the program only Arizona, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas are now paying out the money.

Gregg Pupecki, 48, of Middlesex County, Massachusetts told the Post that he has little faith that the executive order could help him.

"It's great to sign a piece of paper, but no money is reaching anybody," Pupecki said. "The whole thing was a dog and pony show."
Advertisement
Many of the individuals who spoke to the Post said they're already cutting back on some basic expenses including food and medication.

"What we've been doing, especially these last three, four weeks, is basically look at every line item. To the point where we're like, you know, 'Do we shut off the Internet to the house?' " Greg Garret, 33, of Hammond, Indiana told the Post. "We keep trying to be like, 'Oh, you know, it will get better.' My wife, she's gotten to the point where she's just sick of it. It seems like no one cares on the political side."

{{}}