Roughly 5.4 million Americans will struggle to pay bills this month without the extra $600 weekly unemployment benefit, survey finds

  • Roughly 5.4 million Americans will struggle to pay bills this month without the extra $600 weekly unemployment benefit, according to a Wednesday survey from Morning Consult.
  • By September, 9.2 million Americans will face the same fate if additional stimulus isn't introduced, according to the study. 
  • "As each month passes, it will become increasingly difficult for unemployed workers to use their savings to cover the shortfall in their finances," said Leer.
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Without the additional $600 weekly unemployment benefit, which expired at the end of July, roughly 5.4 million Americans will struggle to pay their bills in August, according to a Wednesday survey by Morning Consult. 

Multiple surveys found that financial conditions have deteriorated for unemployed Americans in recent weeks — in July 29% of unemployed or furloughed workers lacked adequate funds to pay for basic living expenses, up from 16% in June. 

In addition to losing the extra $600 weekly benefit, many renters and homeowners took advantage of eviction moratoriums and forbearance programs through the CARES Act to lower monthly expenses, according to the report. The eviction moratorium expired in July, and the foreclosure moratorium is set to end this month.

"Without additional funding, millions of unemployed Americans are at risk of financial insolvency by the end of August," said John Leer, an economist at Morning Consult. By September, that number could surge to 9.2 million, according to the report. 

Without the additional $600 per week, 44% of people on UI are set to receive less than $800 per month, said Leer. This puts the roughly 75% of unemployed Americans with monthly expenses of $750 or more at high risk of financial insolvency. 

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About one-third of UI recipients will have to draw on their savings by the end of August to cover basic expenses, Morning Consult found, assuming an equal distribution of benefits. 

"As each month passes, it will become increasingly difficult for unemployed workers to use their savings to cover the shortfall in their finances," said Leer. 

To be sure, the financial impact of receiving less in unemployment will be lifted slightly by the fact that Americans will still be getting state benefits, according to the study. In addition, about 12% of UI recipients have not yet received the extra $600 weekly benefit they were owed in July, which will be back-paid and offset some of the blow in coming weeks, Leer said. 

Still, there are millions of Americans filing for unemployment insurance on a weekly basis, showing that coronavirus layoffs have persisted. 

The study also found that unemployed workers receiving the additional $600 weekly unemployment benefit did not return to work at a slower rate than those getting less UI, further supporting the idea that the benefit did not keep people from seeking work. 

The findings are from three surveys conducted between May 19-21, June 16-18, and July 23-25 that each included 2,200 adults in the US. 

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