The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

Two anchors of safety net ending, affecting millions

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Mary Taboniar went 15 months without a paycheck, thanks to the COVID pandemic. A housekeepe­r at the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort in Honolulu, the single mother of two saw her income completely vanish as the virus devastated the hospitalit­y industry.

For more than a year, Taboniar depended entirely on boosted unemployme­nt benefits and a network of local foodbanks to feed her family. Even this summer as the vaccine rollout took hold and tourists began to travel again, her work was slow to return, peaking at 11 days in August — about half her pre-pandemic workload.

Taboniar is one of millions of Americans for whom Labor Day 2021 represents a perilous crossroads. Two primary anchors of the government’s COVID protection package are ending or have recently ended. Starting Monday, an estimated 8.9 million people will lose all unemployme­nt benefits. A federal eviction moratorium already has expired.

While other aspects of pandemic assistance including rental aid and the expanded Child Tax Credit are still widely available, untold millions of Americans will face Labor Day with a suddenly shrunken social safety net.

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