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Millions across the US lose federal unemployment benefits this week

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 3:33 PM EDT
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(CNN) - The federal government on Thursday reported a pandemic-era low in first-time applications for unemployment benefits.

About 310,000 people applied for help last week, the fewest in any week since the middle of March 2020.

This comes as 11 million of Americans this week lost special additional federal unemployment benefits that were put in place to help them get through the pandemic.

Many of them still can’t find work and are hurting even more, such as Gustavo Maria, who says the timing couldn’t be worse.

“My daughter is a couple of weeks from being born,” Maria said.

In the last year, Maria said he lost two jobs in warehouses, broke a bone in his leg, and saw the family car repossessed.

“You know, my inner voice is me yelling and screaming trying to like, ‘What I’m going to do, what I’m going to do, what I’m going to do,’” he said.

It’s a question millions of Americans are facing.

For single mom Kristina Toscano, losing unemployment, and the Supreme Court striking down the national ban on evictions, has put her in a dire state.

She’s now thinking of the worst-case scenario.

“Being evicted with my child and not having anywhere to go,” Toscano said. “I just think about my son, like what am I going to tell him? Or what if this doesn’t work out?”

However, cutting aid doesn’t mean people going back to work.

Between April and July, states that cut unemployment benefits saw slightly less job growth than states that kept them in place.

“It’s frustrating because yeah, there are any number of jobs that I could go in and do, but not all of them can support me,” Michael Kittel said.

There are a record 10.9 million open jobs, but graphic designer Kittel hasn’t found one in his industry.

Without unemployment, he says he’ll now pick up shifts at a restaurant, a decision he didn’t want to make.

“We’re still in a pandemic. The idea of being close to hundreds of strangers a day, even while being vaccinated, that’s not something that appeals to me in any way,” he said.

Giselle Manzano lost her job in banking and said her finances are a mess.

“The anxiety, the sleeplessness … it’s a lot,” she said.

Without an income and unable to find a new job, she’s used unemployment to support her large family, but it hasn’t been enough.

“I thought I had everything covered and then, the savings are gone,” Manzano said. “There’s no retirement money. My life insurance policies set up for the kids, as well as myself, it’s gone.”

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