“You put 10, 15, 20 years into a career and then suddenly you can’t go to a dentist anymore, you feel like something’s wrong there,” she said. “I think I’m still mourning the loss of my chance to be middle class, because it’s gone again.”
Regular unemployment benefits, without the $ 300 supplement, replace only a fraction of workers’ lost wages. In Pennsylvania, the maximum benefit is $ 580 per week, or the equivalent of about $ 30,000 per year. In some southern states, the maximum benefit is less than $ 300 per week.
Yet decades of economic research have shown that unemployment benefits are at least a bit of a deterrent to looking for work. When the economy is weak, this negative consequence is offset by the positive impact of benefits on workers, but many economists argue that it makes sense to reduce the benefits as the economy improves.
Cutting profits for millions of people all at once is another matter.
“Losing a job is something we know from research to be one of the most damaging things to your long-term financial and personal well-being,” said Andrew Stettner, senior researcher at Century Foundation. “We largely avoided these kinds of long-term impacts during the pandemic because we were aggressive with our forms of support. Now we are taking it away, we are putting people in danger. “
Ms Harrison, despite her master’s degree, has already lost her job twice since the start of the pandemic. She was put on leave from her job in human resources very early on. She eventually found work to help run a Covid testing business, but was laid off again in March as the pandemic began to ebb. Now she spends her days browsing job boards and submitting applications.
“It’s going to end,” she said of unemployment benefits. “You know it’s going to end. So you can’t just sit back and twiddle your thumbs.
Her husband has diabetes and high blood pressure, and they live with his mother, so Ms Harrison, 47, is reluctant to return to work in person until the pandemic is brought under control. Despite a master’s degree and high-level experience, she is applying for receptionist or administrative assistant positions – jobs she last held decades ago.