How unemployed Floridians will be impacted by the expiration of federal unemployment benefits

How unemployed Floridians will be impacted by the expiration of federal unemployment benefits
Unemployed Americans will no longer receive weekly $600 federal unemployment checks. (Source: wwsb)

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -The $600 weekly checks that millions of unemployed Americans have been receiving through the CARES Act have expired. Despite the expiration, Congress has not made a decision on a new stimulus package.

Many unemployed Suncoast residents tell ABC 7 they are fearful of how they will pay their bills with no new stimulus package in sight.

”I think it’s going to have a pretty significant, pretty negative effect. I think a lot of people are acting like the economy is back to where it was and it’s not,” said University of South Florida Economics Professor, Michael Snipes.

Snipes said with the lack of planing from Congress for future aid, many Americans will suffer to make ends meet. Unemployed Floridians can still receive state unemployment funds. But through the state’s unemployment system a Floridian can only receive a maximum of $275 a week.

Sarasota Bartender Robert Bulah, who has applied for unemployment benefits, said he has had many issues with the state’s unemployment system. Bulah said he applied for unemployment benefits in March but just got his first check last week.

“I’m waiting on both. Both state benefits of fourteen weeks, which I’ve maxed out at $3,300. And I’m waiting on the retroactive payments from the federal aspect which goes all of the way back to April. So there is a substantial amount of money, so I’m three months behind in all of my bills and things of that nature and when you’re looking at a checking account, previous to this other payment they just gave me, of 22 cents it’s demoralizing,” said Bulah.

The pandemic has also added costs to Bulah’s budget, needing to buy more PPE and having higher water and electric bills from having his kids home all day to do virtual schooling.

USF Professor Snipes said the pandemic is especially hitting the Suncoast hard because the economy is heavily based off of tourism and until people from out-of-state start traveling again to Florida, jobs will continue to be impacted.

“Right now from a macroeconomic perspective, this is probably the worst time in American history in a lot of ways. And when you face unprecedented economic times like you do now, sometimes it requires unprecedented steps like extending these transfer payments I think that that’s something that has to be done. I don’t necessarily think it’s a good thing to do long term but at least in the short run this is the best answer we have right now,” said Snipes.

Bulah said he hopes a decision on more aid will be made soon, “It’s just really frustrating because I don’t think congress understands. Until you have to answer the phone ‘no he’s not here right now’ because you don’t have an answer for that bill collector they really can’t understand the severity of what it’s really done and the impact it’s done for the parents emotionally, let alone the children.”

Congress will meet again next week, but there is no timeline of when a new stimulus package will be approved.

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