Some Americans facing uncertain future as federal COVID-19 unemployment assistance programs run out

More than 21 million Americans are claiming some form of unemployment insurance.

The number of unemployed Americans who have been out of work six months or more increased by almost 40 percent last month.

Now those relying on federal assistance to get by face an uncertain future.

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The clock is ticking as federal relief for millions of Americans is running out.

"I've never been one to count on the government for help, but I've also never been one that's been in a pandemic and had a country shut down either," said Randy Williams.

Williams lost his job as a manager of a casual restaurant this spring.

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After his state unemployment benefits ran out, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation plan allowed him to pay his bills for an extended 13 weeks.

That program is one of two that ends just weeks from now.

"One of the problems is that the normal safety net in this country has a big hole in it and the backup employment options are just not there, so some of the long term unemployed have very little option right now," said economist Ed Mills.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is another part of the CARES Act which also expires at the end of December. It provides aid to workers who are usually left out of the system, including gig workers and the self-employed.

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Single mother Victoria Passmore was laid off from a health information technology company in June.

"I'm going to have to continue relying on my support system and savings and hopefully I can get a good job before all of that runs out," she said.

Democrats and Republicans say they know how important these programs are, but they have yet to come to an agreement.

So far, both sides seem to be at an impasse.

"Our focus in the Congress in this lame duck continues to be on COVID relief," Nancy Pelosi said on Nov. 13.

"I don't think the current situation demands a multi-trillion dollar package," Mitch McConnell said on Nov. 12.

But COVID-19 cases are growing and so are lines at food banks throughout the country.
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