When Todd Anderson lost his job doing landscape design for resorts in the spring, the single dad of four from Mackinaw City, Mich., began selling off his belongings. He squeaks by on the $362 he receives each week in unemployment benefits, reports NPR. But he’s about to lose that, too. The day after Christmas, "Congress is set to cut off 12 million Americans from the only thing holding them back from falling into financial wreckage and disaster," says Andrew Stettner, co-author of a study from the Century Foundation, a progressive think tank. It notes two federal jobless relief programs—Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides 13 weeks of jobless aid beyond what states provide, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which proves jobless aid to freelance and gig workers—will expire on Dec. 26 unless Congress intervenes.
More than half of the 21.1 million people receiving unemployment benefits will be affected: 7.3 million workers on PUA and 4.6 million on PEUC, per the Washington Post. It notes there was a clamor at the end of 2013, more than five years after the start of the Great Recession, when unemployment benefits expired for 1.3 million people. But "nobody is talking about this," Stettner tells the Post. "We're just careening into this huge cliff and it's like it's not even happening." The situation is made worse by rising cases of coronavirus across much of the country, preventing people from returning to work. To boot, a nationwide eviction moratorium and a program providing forbearance on mortgages will expire at the year's end, per CBS News. "Inaction by Congress could mean that millions of American families will enter the New Year with little or no means of support," the study reads. (President-elect Joe Biden has called for action.)