Cutting Back: Bay Area Residents React to Losing Unemployment Benefits

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The lack of a deal in Congress means more than 25 million Americans are losing $600 a week in unemployment Friday. For many, that money was the only thing keeping them afloat.  

“I am very appreciative for what I have even though I’m incredibly frustrated with the system and its inability to provide unemployment benefits for millions of people,” said Chris Sulots, who has been unemployed since June 12. 

He was given enough notice by his former employer that he was able to file for unemployment the moment he was laid off. But it wasn’t until this past week that he saw a single dollar of that unemployment money. Now, 60% of what he just started receiving will be gone. 

“It’s going to be probably cutting back on groceries, cutting back on anything extra I was planning to do. Just tightening it down to core basics,” said Sulots.

In Pleasanton, Marissa Ringman has been able to keep her boutique open on a modified business model, but she’s had to lay off all eight of her employees. 

Currently, they’re all receiving unemployment and she’s heard first-hand what they’re going through. 

“If you’re a single mom with three kids and have to work all day and now you have to homeschool them, that $600 could mean either milk, food, or PG&E," Ringman said.

She said she doesn’t believe all her employees have actually needed that $600 a week and she hopes this next stimulus plan makes some revisions. 

“What breaks my heart is I wish that now, we can investigate who needs what and then it can be redistributed differently,” Ringman said.

Several Republican leaders have said that they think the $600 a week actually discouraged people from going back to work. The latest stimulus proposal would drop that $600 to $200 a week.

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