Sept. 14, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Unemployed New Yorkers will gather in Long Island City tonight to call on the federal government to extend federal unemployment benefits that expired on Labor Day.
The jobless, along with activists, will rally at Gantry Plaza State Park at 8 p.m. Tuesday to demand legislators extend the pandemic-era benefits after as many as 800,000 New York City residents lost all unemployment benefits on Sept. 6. They are specifically calling on U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, who represents New York, to help push the extension through.
The job market in New York City has not fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels, according to a recent study by The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs. The study noted that the city is still 510,000 payroll jobs short of its pre-COVID-19 peak.
Furthermore, the state’s official unemployment rate of 7.6 percent is the fourth highest in the country, according to Unemployed Action, a movement for and by unemployed workers and their families.
Many of the residents affected by the federal cutoff are low-paid workers — including people who had worked in leisure and hospitality, local services, retail, and the arts and entertainment industries — according to the New School’s study.
The rally is being organized by members of Unemployed Action, who will project images of unemployed workers on the park’s historic gantries.
“During recessions, our benefits should last until the economy has fully recovered,” Unemployed Action Leader Nate Claus said. “Senator Schumer must seize this opportunity to ensure UI helps every New Yorker.”
Many business leaders, however, have been critical of the federal unemployment benefits. They argue that it has been difficult to find staff in recent months, saying the benefits have made it easier for people to remain at home than to work.
But labor advocates say job-seekers are looking for better-paying jobs that include benefits like health insurance and paid sick leave during the ongoing health crisis.
A spokesperson for Schumer’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.