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    Mayacaman's Avatar

    Millions of Americans heading into the holidays unemployed & over $5,000 behind on rent

    Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays
    unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent

    By Heather Long
    Washington Post

    Dec. 7, 2020

    Millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic have fallen thousands of dollars behind on rent and utility bills, a warning sign that people are running out of money for basic needs.

    Nearly 12 million renters will owe an average of $5,850 in back rent and utilities by January, Moody’s Analytics warns. Last month, 9 million renters said they were behind on rent, according to a Census Bureau survey

    Economists say the data underscores the deepening financial disaster for many families as the pandemic continues to shut off work opportunities, lending new urgency to negotiations over a second round of stimulus that could reinstate federal unemployment insurance and rental assistance, among other forms of aid.

    On Monday, lawmakers were working to release an outline of the latest $908 billion bill, which has some bipartisan support. The deal would restart $300 in weekly federal unemployment in January running through April, although details are still being worked out, congressional aides said.

    The stakes are high for some 20 million Americans receiving some kind of unemployment aid, who have seen weekly checks dwindle since August, making it harder to pay bills. About 12 million unemployed are slated to have their benefits cut off entirely at the end of the year unless lawmakers act before then.

    A growing number of Americans are going hungry

    With coronavirus cases at all-time highs, the economic recovery has stalled and job opportunities remain scarce.

    Only 245,000 jobs came back in November, the slowest pace since the recovery began. Restaurants and retailers cut jobs, and more small businesses are closing, data show.

    The numbers of those behind on rent and utilities were especially high for families with children, with 21 percent falling behind on rent, and among families of color. About 29 percent of Black families and 17 percent of Hispanic renters were behind, the Census Bureau reported. A separate analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, looking at people who had jobs before the pandemic, found 1.3 million such households are now an average of $5,400 in debt on rent and utilities, after those people had lost jobs and their family’s income plunged.

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