PUA benefits ends, many left without financial lifeline

AUGUST 28: The food line at the Grace Everett Food Pantry. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)

By JOSH RESNEK

For the past 52 weeks, many unemployed Everett residents have been collect- ing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) in addition to Massachusetts unemployment compensation.

Everything ended on September 4.

The extra Federal stimulus payment of $300 per week supplementing nominal Massachusetts unemployment compensation gave a safety net of protection to those boxed out of the current labor market by changes brought on by the COVID-19.

The near-collapse of the US economy in 2020 forced the government to extend as well as enhance unemployment for the first time in modern history.

The aid and comfort given to many thousands of people in Massachusetts was a Godsend.

Now, the party is over, so to speak.

Those out of work need to find work and fast.

However, getting a job after so many months out of work for those who do not have an advanced work/skill set is difficult to impossible.

Many remain unemployed and unemployable even though the local economy is bouncing back from the negative effect of the COVID-19.

Inevitably, the end of PUA will be the cause of intensified food insecurity in Everett and for dozens of cities and towns just like it.

Unemployed residents and heads of families living from week to week on unemploy- ment benefited from the free food outlets in the city.

Between the unemploy- ment and the free food, many could get by.

With no more unemployment, it is expected food insecurity will increase, and lines will grow at the city’s free food outlets.

Getting by has just become that much more difficult.

Evictions and repossessions remain against the law temporarily, but no one can be sure for how much longer. Higher than normal unemployment payments to the cities mostly out of a job workforce that received them provided a great deal of stability during a fast-moving, unstable moment in our national history.

Now the lifeline is gone.

It won’t any time soon be extended.

It is time for all of those unemployed to get a job. That is easier said than

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