What’s happening?

Piece of paper with Application for Unemployment Benefits typed on it, pen laying across it.
manjurulhaque / Twenty20

Right before the pandemic hit, a 2019 Gallup survey found that there were 44 million self-employed professionals in the U.S.

But as many were forced out of the workforce either because gigs evaporated or they had to stay home and care for children while daycares and schools were closed, they came to rely on federal unemployment benefits, which were distributed by their state governments.

However, 20 states plan to shut off access to paid unemployment assistance for those workers by July 3. In May, 6.3 million individuals were claiming these benefits across the country. Around 1 million of them will be impacted by this move, according to multiple media reports.

And it’s not just the self-employed who are set to lose these benefits.

With more than 9 million job openings reported in April, there’s a huge demand for a variety of skilled workers now that pandemic restrictions are starting to lift. With that in mind, many state governors are also ending the $300 weekly benefits for regular full-time workers who lost their jobs over this past year.

Currently, 25 states plan to end their unemployment benefits before they’re set to expire in September. The first four — Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi and Missouri — are cutting off benefits on June 12. The other 21 states plan to sunset their programs between June 19 and July 10.

Which states are ending the benefits?

The 20 states ending paid unemployment assistance for self-employed workers are:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi,
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

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How you can prepare

Person sitting on computer, writing a resume.
vinnikava / Twenty20

While a few weeks isn’t much time to get ready to lose these essential benefits, there are still a few things you can do to come up with a plan.

First, you’ll want to dust off your resume and make sure it’s all ready for you to start applying to jobs.

Next, set aside whatever you can spare for your emergency fund — especially if you’ve had to withdraw from the account over this past year. And be sure you put your money away in a high-yield savings account so it will continue to grow in the bank.

Next, if you’ve been relying on high-interest credit cards to carry you through the pandemic, you may want to consider a lower-interest debt consolidation loan. By rolling all your high-interest balances into a single payment, you’ll save yourself a huge chunk of cash and you can pay down your debt sooner.

What to do if you need more money right now

Woman opens wallet to sort through dollar bills.
alinabuzunova / Twenty20

If that’s not enough to help set your finances up for success through the tail-end of the pandemic, you have a few options to find some extra funds in your budget.

  • Become your own insurance adjustor. If you haven’t looked around for a better rate on your auto insurance in the last year, you may be overpaying by as much as $1,100 every year. Shop around for a better deal and trim a few hundred dollars off your monthly bill ASAP. You also can save on homeowners insurance using the same technique.

  • Earn a little more on the side. Do you have a marketable or useful skill or hobby? Now is the perfect time to turn it into a profitable side hustle and generate a little extra income until you can get back on your feet.

  • Refinance your mortgage and slash your payments. Mortgage rates are still at some of the cheapest levels in history. Refinancing your current home loan could save you thousands of dollars through the rest of this year. The mortgage tech and data provider Black Knight says 14.1 million homeowners could refi and cut their monthly payments by an average $287.

  • Invest like a pro for pennies. You might not have a lot of money to spare these days, but there’s one simple way to change that. Download a popular app that allows you to invest your "spare change” and turn your pennies into a diversified portfolio.

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About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Sigrid Forberg

Reporter

Sigrid is a reporter with MoneyWise. Before joining the team, she worked for a B2B publication in the hardware and home improvement industry and ran an internal employee magazine for the federal government. As a graduate of the Carleton University Journalism program, she takes pride in telling informative, engaging and compelling stories.

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