About 4.55 million people around the world have died from COVID-19 and this number is increasing every day. There have been 219 million cases globally, nearly 48 times the number of deaths. With so many people affected, governments have instituted lockdowns that have not only affected the global and national economic outlook but also impacted individuals’ livelihoods. Many policies enforced by governments around the globe, like lockdowns, are to stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, they also have detrimental effects such as large-scale unemployment.
To diminish this crisis in the United States, former President Donald Trump signed the 2.2 trillion economic relief stimulus bill Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law on March 27, 2020. Under this bill, eligible persons can also receive unemployment benefits through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) programs. FPUC gave $600 per week to individuals receiving unemployment benefits on top of the amount given by each state. PUA is federal assistance for individuals who are unemployed because of the pandemic but are not eligible to receive normal unemployment insurance benefits. This program started on February 2, 2020 and ended on September 4, 2021, but individuals can claim benefits 30 days after the ending date for any unemployment before September 4th.
Why PUA is Ending
One reason why PUA has officially ended is that some individuals believe that these unemployment insurance benefits are discouraging the unemployed to return to work. Some people, especially business owners, are concerned that with unemployment benefits continuing, unemployed Americans will be less eager to get a job. As a result, most unemployment benefits programs will return to pre-pandemic levels, which may exclude many self-employed or gig workers.
What Does This Mean
The effects of the PUA ending are felt by many Americans. Around 38.85 million people’s incomes will drop sharply without unemployment insurance benefits, with 7.5 million losing all benefits. The people most affected include self-employed, freelance, and gig working individuals who are not part of the regular employer-employee dynamic. These individuals without benefits will now have to scramble to find work to raise their income so they can feed and care for themselves and their families. In all, the brief reprieve given by economic stimulus bills that unconventional unemployed individuals have experienced is now ending, and their health and safety may be at a higher risk.