PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders will see their incomes slashed this weekend, as federal programs offering financial support to unemployed workers during the pandemic are coming to an end.
A Target 12 analysis of R.I. Department of Labor and Training data shows benefits are ending entirely for nearly 46,000 residents. Another 11,000 Rhode Islanders will be losing an extra $300 per week provided on top of traditional unemployment insurance.
Among the 46,000 people losing all benefits, the analysis shows the group is majority women, young adults and people without college degrees. The group is also disproportionately people of color and mostly from the state’s most densely populated communities.
The benefits are expiring because two federal programs created by Congress in early 2020 — Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) — are coming to an end after more than a year.
The federal government has indicated states can use other pandemic relief funds to bolster unemployment benefits, but so far Rhode Island has not announced any plans to do so.
Unemployment benefits are typically only available for 26 weeks, but during the pandemic Congress extended the amount of time workers could collect. The PUA program offered benefits to self-employed workers and people in the “gig economy,” such as Uber drivers, who would not typically be eligible.
Here’s a look at the makeup of the 46,000 people about to lose benefits in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island labor officials estimate 54% of the 46,000 people losing benefits are women.
Mostly young adults
Nearly two-thirds of the people losing benefits are under the age of 55.
Rhode Islanders 25 to 34 years old make up the largest group affected, totaling 11,000 people.
Mostly non-college educated
More than half the Rhode Islanders losing benefits did not attend college.
Disproportionately people of color
Black residents make up about 5.7% of Rhode Island’s population, but 10% of people about to lose benefits. Similarly, Hispanic people make up 16.6% of the state’s population and 24% of the Rhode Islanders facing a benefits cliff.
For comparison, white Rhode Islanders make up 71.3% of the state’s population, but only 54% of the people about to lose benefits.
Mostly from cities
About a quarter of the people losing benefits live in Providence. The capital city is followed by Cranston, Pawtucket, Warwick and Woonsocket.
About 3,000 of those slated to lose Rhode Island unemployment benefits live in other states.