Miguel Gutierrez Jr.
For many, unemployment benefits have been crucial to making ends meet during the pandemic. As of Monday, Sept. 6, three pandemic aid programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, have expired and will not be renewed, leaving many unemployed to struggle.
While the country has been returning to a sort of normalcy, COVID-19 is still spreading, especially now with the Delta variant. Certain industries, such as travel and transportation, have specifically been hit hard by the pandemic. People have lost their jobs in these industries, and now they’re unable to find new ones that accommodate their needs. People may have health concerns putting them at risk for COVID-19, be unable to get vaccinated, or be a single parent who needs a job to accommodate childcare schedules.
The situation goes both ways, though, as many small businesses are struggling to find employees to fill their positions. They’ve had to incentivize working at their business through higher wages and perks, but there’s still been a constant struggle to hire throughout the pandemic. On the other hand, there have been lower hiring rates recently, specifically because of the Delta variant.
According to CNN, without the three pandemic aid programs that expired Monday, about 8 million people have no unemployment benefits, and another 2.7 million have significantly fewer unemployment benefits. While one goal of taking away these programs is to incentivize getting a job, which would in turn help small businesses, many cannot find work to accommodate their personal needs.
Extending the pandemic aid programs through federal relief funds is an option, but that idea has not gained much support. Many lawmakers believe that taking away the aid programs might incentivize looking for a job. This doesn’t necessarily work because people are still struggling due to the pandemic and can’t find work, so not extending the aid programs leaves them without work or aid. While unemployment benefits specific to the pandemic are not being extended, regular unemployment benefits are still available.
The issue of taking away unemployment benefits is a messy one because while there are job openings, not everyone is able to fill them. There will always be the people who need unemployment benefits, but there are others who need extra because the pandemic has hit them hard. Ultimately, the pandemic is still occurring, and with that, it’s disturbing job opportunities. Millions of people are being left without jobs and unemployment benefits, leaving them struggling to make ends meet. In order to make the transition back to normalcy smoother, we need to extend the pandemic unemployment benefits.