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750,000 Californians Projected To Lose Unemployment Benefits Next Month

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Graffitti covers a closed restaurant along Hollywood Boulevard on October 15, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
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According to new research, nearly 750,000 Californians will lose their unemployment benefits next month unless Congress acts soon.

The sudden expiration of two federal pandemic assistance programs on Dec. 26 could put severe financial strain on thousands of households and potentially undermine California’s economic recovery.

“These benefits will be needed to pay for rent and necessities,” said UCLA economist Till von Wachter, co-author of a new report released Thursday by the California Policy Lab estimating the impact of the so-called “unemployment cliff.”

“We are looking at a large number of people who might be really hurting, and that is likely to hurt the overall economy as well,” he said.

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Most of those losing benefits next month will be freelance and contract workers relying on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a program that provides benefits to non-payroll employees who are ineligible for traditional unemployment insurance.

Others will be cut off by another expiring program called Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). That program extends unemployment insurance benefits for those who’ve exhausted their original claims.

Without further action from Congress, hundreds of thousands of Californians relying on both programs could be left to fend for themselves at a time when job prospects are low and COVID-19 cases are surging.

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Three-Quarters Of A Million Californians Are At Risk Of Losing Unemployment Benefits Next Month