Without a $600 weekly benefit, jobless Americans face bleak choices.
Until a few days ago, most analysts expected Congress to agree on a new emergency spending bill that would include at least a partial extension of the extra unemployment benefits, perhaps including retroactive payments for the period when the program lapsed. On Saturday, with negotiations in Congress stalled and on the verge of collapse, President Trump signed four directives aimed at providing economic assistance, including financial help to the unemployed. But it was unclear if Mr. Trump had the authority to act on his own on matters requiring federal spending, or how long it would take for money to start flowing if he did.
Congress may yet agree on a new emergency spending bill that would include extra unemployment benefits, perhaps including retroactive payments for the period when the program lapsed.
For many of the 30 million Americans relying on unemployment benefits, it could already be too late to prevent lasting financial harm. Without the extra $600 a week, which ran out at the end of July, they will need to get by on regular state unemployment benefits, which often total a few hundred dollars a week or less. For many families, that will not be enough to prevent eviction, hunger or mounting debt that will make it harder to climb out of the hole.
Households and the broader economy are particularly vulnerable at this moment. Eviction moratoriums are expiring or have expired in much of the country. The Paycheck Protection Program, which helped thousands of small businesses to retain workers, ends this week. When Latrish Oseko lost her job last spring, government aid helped prevent a crisis from becoming a catastrophe.
But the federal money has run out. So Ms. Oseko, 39, is spending much of her time sitting in the Delaware hotel room where she has lived since her landlord kicked her out at the end of July, applying for jobs on her phone while watching the debate play out on the local news. “I’m glued to it because I want to know, is there going to be hope for me?” she said. “They’re fighting, and I have to watch them fight, but they have a place to sleep at night.”