DENVER — The federal $600 weekly supplement to unemployment insurance is set to expire on August 1, leaving millions of Americans with uncertain financial futures.
"The restaurant industry was already pretty unstable. A lot of us never really had savings because the pay is not great and now a lot of us don’t have healthcare," said Elise Dantzler, who was laid off from a restaurant when Gov. Polis ordered all restaurants and bars to close in March. "It has impacted pretty much everyone I know."
Now, with the CARES ACT federal benefit set to expire, there are few financial options for many who were let go from the struggling restaurant industry.
"It is terrifying, honestly," explained Dantzler. "There are so many things going on and to not have that security of knowing where your next paycheck is coming from is very scary for so many of us."
It is not just restaurant workers facing enormous financial insecurity. The hotel, hospitality, and airline industries have all faced significant layoffs, with more likely in the future.
"This is really a critical time across America," said Ken Kyle, the local council president for the Association of Flight Attendants, Denver Chapter, representing United Airlines workers. "The travel industry being some of the hardest-hit industries, we don’t know what is going to happen."
Kyle expects thousands of flight attendants to be laid off in the coming months. With coronavirus restrictions and a public more fearful of traveling, forecasts for the airline industry are bleak.
"It is definitely worse than 9/11, and 9/11 was devastating to our industry," he said. "There is just a lot of people that don’t know what they are going to do."
Congress has been debating the benefits extension for weeks but no agreement has been made. Republicans have voiced concern of the $600-a-week enhancement saying it disincentivizes employment. White House officials say they have put out several offers to extend portions of the program with reduced payments, but Democrats are pushing back.
"It is very angering to see people making this out to be a partisan political issue," said Dantzler. "To have that completely ripped out underneath hundreds of thousands of people is just crazy."