Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP, FILE
While New York City has made significant progress in fighting the coronavirus, the economic impact of that battle still looms.
The city’s unemployement rate shot up to a whopping 18 percent at the height of the pandemic, and with parts of the city’s economy still offline, there are many New Yorkers still struggling to get by.
“One of the few things that helped was that unemployment support from the federal government," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "People depended on those $600 checks, and now they're gone. So, it's sobering. It's painful.”
New Yorkers have been given one reprieve. Those in the state receiving unemployment benefits will get 20 extra weeks of assistance. But residents we spoke to said the federal aid they’ve been getting was the only thing keeping their heads above water.
“We the people, we suffer," said one New Yorker."'Cause at the end of the day, all people want to do is eat food and just survive, and I think honestly, $600 won't do enough.”
De Blasio talked about the stalemate in Washington over the latest stimulus bill at length during a press conference Thursday. Its passage could keep the additional funding that some New Yorkers count on in place.
Some of those we spoke to believe those holding up the legislation never intended to negotiate the issue.
“It's working exactly how they want it to, to keep certain groups of people down," said one New Yorker. "And by certain groups of people, I mean people of color.”
Others are torn and can see both sides. They know people who are really just hanging on, but see others who have taken the additional unemployment assistance and abused it.
“What they should have done is made sure you're using that either for your bills or food," said one New Yorker. "Why are you just giving me the cash? Like, put it on a credit card where you can monitor where it’s going.”
Without any concrete commitments on additional aid from the federal government, de Blasio is encouraging all eligible New Yorkers to see if they qualify for the additional assistance being offered by the state. You can do that by going to labor.ny.gov.