Expanded unemployment benefits that have kept millions of Americans afloat during the pandemic expired on Monday, setting up the abrupt cutoff of assistance to 7.5 million people as the Delta variant rattles the pandemic recovery, according to The New York Times.
The end of the aid came without objection from President Biden or his top economic advisers, who have become caught in a political fight over the benefits and are now banking on other federal help and an autumn pickup in hiring to keep vulnerable families from foreclosure and food lines.
The $1.9 trillion economic aid package Mr. Biden signed in March included extended and expanded benefits for unemployed workers, like a $300-per-week federal supplement to state jobless payments, additional weeks of assistance for the long-term unemployed and the extension of a special program to provide benefits to so-called gig workers who traditionally do not qualify for unemployment benefits. Monday’s expiration means that 7.5 million people will lose their benefits entirely and another 3 million will lose the $300 weekly supplement.
Republicans and small business owners have assailed the extension of aid, contending that it has held back the economic recovery and fueled a labor shortage by discouraging people from looking for work. Liberal Democrats and progressive groups have pushed for another round of aid, saying millions of Americans remain vulnerable and in need of help.
The president’s most senior economic advisers say the economy is in the process of completing a hand off between federal assistance and the labor market: as support from the March stimulus law wanes, they say, more and more Americans are set to return to work, drawing paychecks that will power consumer spending in the place of jobless benefits, direct checks to workers and other government aid.
Biden is pushing Congress to pass two halves of a multi-trillion agenda for economic growth.