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Thousands in New Hampshire to Lose Jobless Benefits After Christmas

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An estimated 12 million Americans nationwide are set to lose their unemployment benefits the day after Christmas. (Mr Doomits/Adobe Stock)
An estimated 12 million Americans nationwide are set to lose their unemployment benefits the day after Christmas. (Mr Doomits/Adobe Stock)
November 24, 2020

CONCORD, N.H. -- It looks like millions of Americans will enter the new year without jobless benefits they've been receiving during the pandemic, including more than 19,000 people in New Hampshire, according to a new Century Foundation report.

On December 26, two crucial unemployment programs from the CARES Act expire: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for people who aren't eligible for state unemployment benefits, such as gig workers and contractors; and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which extended exhausted state benefits.

Report author Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at the Century Foundation, described it as "the last economic safety net" from the CARES Act, and said it will mean tough choices for many.

"Do I sell my car? Do I move out of my house? Do I cut out a meal? Do I postpone that medicine that I need? These are things that not only have an immediate effect, they have a lasting effect," Stettner said.

Other CARES Act benefits - the one-time, $1,200 stimulus payments and an extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits - already ended. Stettner said with the pandemic and health and safety precautions states are taking, finding work this winter will be a challenge for many.

With vaccines and other treatments for COVID-19 in the works, Stettner sees these unemployment programs as a way to "hunker down" economically until the nation emerges next year in better times.

"We've never cut off this many workers at once before," he said. "You know, we've had other logjams in the past where these programs have lapsed in previous recessions, but we've never been this many people."

Stettner, along with other advocates and lawmakers, hopes Congress will recognize the immediate and urgent need to pass more jobless benefits, even if they can't yet agree on all the contents of a potential pandemic-relief package. New Hampshire's representatives in Congress have all been pushing for relief for constituents.

Lily Bohlke, Public News Service - NH