Unemployment benefits remain in limbo for New Mexicans | KOB 4

Unemployment benefits remain in limbo for New Mexicans

Grace Reader
Updated: December 26, 2020 10:12 PM
Created: December 26, 2020 09:28 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Congress has agreed to a COVID stimulus package that includes $600 checks for many Americans, as well as an extension to pandemic unemployment aid. However, President Trump and some Democratic congresspeople want those checks to be worth more. 

“That money has been critiqued as being too low for a lot of Americans. For instance, we know that the average two bedroom rent in the Albuquerque metropolitan area is $1,000 per month,” said Reilly White, an associate professor of finance at UNM. 

With the stimulus bill in limbo, more than nine million Americans who fall under the pandemic unemployment assistance program will no longer be covered starting Saturday. 

“And this covers gig workers, self-employed workers and this bill is attempting to extend this,” White explained.

For the next few weeks, Reilly said people won’t be able to count on money from the government to get by. 

“Even if the bill, the pandemic bill becomes signed into law tomorrow, there's always going to be a delay,” he said. “Not only for receiving checks if you happen to be eligible for a stimulus check, but there will be a delay when it comes to receiving unemployment compensation benefits since state unemployment agencies have to receive guidance from the department of labor.”

Until then, White said it’s a good idea to hold off on big or unnecessary purchases, and keep an eye on your credit card statements. If and when the stimulus does get passed, White said to tackle debt first. 

“The first thing is to pay off all your highest interest bearing debt. For instance, for a lot of people that means credit cards,” he said. 

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