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    The New Jobs Report Numbers Are Pretty Good, Actually

    They fell far short of analyst expectations, but they reflect a steady expansion that is more rapid than other recent recoveries.It’s not as bad as it looks.That’s the most important thing to take away from Friday’s release of the September jobs report, which found that employers added 194,000 jobs last month, a far cry from the 500,000 analysts expected. The initial response among experts was to wonder whether it called for an exclamation of a mere “oof” or a more extreme “ooooooof.”But when you peel apart the details, there is less reason to be concerned than that headline would suggest. The story of the economy in the second half of 2021 remains one of steady expansion that is more rapid than other recent recoveries. It is being held back by supply constraints and, in September at least, the emergence of the Delta variant. But the direction is clear, consistent and positive.Much of the disappointment in payroll growth came from strange statistical quirks around school reopening. The number of jobs in state local education combined with private education fell by 180,000 in September — when the customary seasonal adjustments are applied.There is reason to think the pandemic made those seasonal adjustments misleading. Schools reopened in September en masse, and employed 1.28 million more people (excluding seasonal adjustments) in September than in August. But a “normal” year, whatever that means anymore, would have featured an even bigger surge in employment. In other words, this might be a statistical artifact of a shrinking education sector earlier in the pandemic, not new information about what is happening this fall.Or as the Bureau of Labor Statistics put it in its release, “Recent employment changes are challenging to interpret, as pandemic-related staffing fluctuations in public and private education have distorted the normal seasonal hiring and layoff patterns,” which is the government statistical agency equivalent of a shrug emoji.Another detail in the report that takes some of the sting out of the weak payroll gains was news that July and August numbers were revised up by a combined 169,000 jobs, implying the economy entered the fall in a stronger place than it had seemed.Meanwhile, the focus on the underwhelming job growth numbers has masked what should be viewed as unambiguously good news.The unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent, from 5.2 percent in August. It fell for good reasons, not bad — the number of people unemployed dropped by a whopping 710,000 while the number of people working rose by a robust 526,000. (These numbers are based on a survey of households, in contrast with the payroll numbers that are based on a survey of businesses; the two diverge from time to time, including this month.)This represents a remarkably speedy recovery in the labor market — attaining sub-5 percent unemployment a mere 17 months after the end of the deepest recession in modern times. By contrast, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the jobless rate did not reach 4.8 percent until January 2016, six and a half years after the technical end of that recession.Part of it is the unusual nature of a pandemic-induced recession and part of it is the highly aggressive response of fiscal policymakers to the crisis. But the result is that jobs are abundant and most people who want to work can.And while participation in the labor force remains well below prepandemic levels and has lots of room for improvement, it is not as bad as it was in that last expansion.In September, for example, the share of people 25 to 54 who were in the labor force — that is, either working or looking for work — was 81.7 percent. That is still well below 83.1 percent before the pandemic, but considerably better than the 81 percent achieved in January 2016, the point in the last expansion when the unemployment rate got this low.Labor force participation remains the Achilles’ heel of this recovery. Many Americans who have dropped out of the work force — because of whatever mix of burnout, challenges with child care, or ability to live on pent-up savings or government benefits — are not yet back in action.Notably, even as expanded unemployment insurance benefits expired in early September, there was no surge in participation in the labor force. The labor force participation rate for all adults fell by 0.1 of a percentage point, to 61.6 percent. That suggests that the end of extra-generous job benefits may not be the solution to labor shortage woes that many business groups have argued it would be.Low rates of labor force participation and the weaker-than-expected job growth numbers are most likely two parts of the same story. Businesses want to hire and expand, and labor shortages are real. But there are fewer workers available to be hired right now than there were before the pandemic.That makes for good opportunities for Americans who do want to work. It is reflected in higher pay — average hourly earnings in the private sector were up 4.6 percent in September from a year ago. But it is also acting as a constraint on just how fast this recovery can go. More

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    'Squid Game,' the Netflix Hit, Taps South Korean Fears

    The dystopian Netflix hit taps South Korea’s worries about costly housing and scarce jobs, concerns familiar to its U.S. and international viewers.In “Squid Game,” the hit dystopian television show on Netflix, 456 people facing severe debt and financial despair play a series of deadly children’s games to win a $38 million cash prize in South Korea.Koo Yong-hyun, a 35-year-old office worker in Seoul, has never had to face down masked homicidal guards or competitors out to slit his throat, like the characters in the show do. But Mr. Koo, who binge-watched “Squid Game” in a single night, said he empathized with the characters and their struggle to survive in the country’s deeply unequal society.Mr. Koo, who got by on freelance gigs and government unemployment checks after he lost his steady job, said it is “almost impossible to live comfortably with a regular employee’s salary” in a city with runaway housing prices. Like many young people in South Korea and elsewhere, Mr. Koo sees a growing competition to grab a slice of a shrinking pie, just like the contestants in “Squid Game.”Those similarities have helped turn the nine-episode drama into an unlikely international sensation. “Squid Game” is now the top-ranked show in the United States on Netflix and is on its way to becoming one of the most-watched shows in the streaming service’s history. “There’s a very good chance it will be our biggest show ever,” Ted Sarandos, a co-chief executive at Netflix, said during a recent business conference.Culturally, the show has sparked an online embrace of its distinct visuals, especially the black masks decorated with simple squares and triangles worn by the anonymous guards, and a global curiosity for the Korean children’s games that underpin the deadly competitions. Recipes for dalgona, the sugary Korean treat at the center of one especially tense showdown, have gone viral.A shop in Seoul selling “Squid Game”-themed dalgona.Heo Ran/ReutersLike “The Hunger Games” books and movies, “Squid Game” holds its audience with its violent tone, cynical plot and — spoiler alert! — a willingness to kill off fan-favorite characters. But it has also tapped a sense familiar to people in the United States, Western Europe and other places, that prosperity in nominally rich countries has become increasingly difficult to achieve, as wealth disparities widen and home prices rise past affordable levels.“The stories and the problems of the characters are extremely personalized but also reflect the problems and realities of Korean society,” Hwang Dong-hyuk, the show’s creator, said in an email. He wrote the script in 2008 as a film, when many of these trends had become evident, but overhauled it to reflect new worries, including the impact of the coronavirus. (Minyoung Kim, the head of content for the Asia-Pacific region at Netflix, said the company was in talks with Mr. Hwang about producing a second season.)“Squid Game” is only the latest South Korean cultural export to win a global audience by tapping into the country’s deep feelings of inequality and ebbing opportunities. “Parasite,” the 2019 film that won best picture at the Oscars, paired a desperate family of grifters with the oblivious members of a rich Seoul household. “Burning,” a 2018 art-house hit, built tension by pitting a young deliveryman against a well-to-do rival for a woman’s attention.The masked guards in “Squid Game” mete out violence during the competitions.NetflixSouth Korea boomed in the postwar era, making it one of the richest countries in Asia and leading some economists to call its rise the “miracle on the Han River.” But wealth disparity has worsened as the economy has matured.“South Koreans used to have a collective community spirit,” says Yun Suk-jin, a drama critic and professor of modern literature at Chungnam National University. But the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s undermined the nation’s positive growth story and “made everyone fight for themselves.”The country now ranks No. 11 using the Gini coefficient, one measure of income inequality, among the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the research group for the world’s richest nations. (The United States is ranked No. 6.)As South Korean families have tried to keep up, household debt has mounted, prompting some economists to warn that the debt could hold back the economy. Home prices have surged to the point where housing affordability has become a hot-button political topic. Prices in Seoul have soared by over 50 percent during the tenure of the country’s president, Moon Jae-in, and led to a political scandal.“Squid Game” lays bare the irony between the social pressure to succeed in South Korea and the difficulty of doing just that, said Shin Yeeun, who graduated from college in January 2020, just before the pandemic hit. Now 27, she said she had spent over a year looking for steady work.“It’s really difficult for people in their 20s to find a full-time job these days,” she said.South Korea has also suffered a sharp drop in births, generated partly by a sense among young people that raising children is too expensive.“In South Korea, all parents want to send their kids to the best schools,” Ms. Shin said. “To do that you have to live in the best neighborhoods.” That would require saving enough money to buy a house, a goal so unrealistic “that I’ve never even bothered calculating how long it will take me,” Ms. Shin said.Characters in the show receive invitations to participate in the Squid Game.Netflix“Squid Game” revolves around Seong Gi-hun, a gambling addict in his 40s who doesn’t have the means to buy his daughter a proper birthday present or pay for his aging mother’s medical expenses. One day he is offered a chance to participate in the Squid Game, a private event run for the entertainment of wealthy individuals. To claim the $38 million prize, contestants must pass through six rounds of traditional Korean children’s games. Failure means death.The 456 contestants speak directly to many of the country’s anxieties. One is a graduate from Seoul National University, the nation’s top university, who is wanted for mishandling his clients’ funds. Another is a North Korean defector who needs to take care of her brother and help her mother escape from the North. Another character is an immigrant laborer whose boss refuses to pay his wages.The characters have resonated with South Korean youth who don’t see a chance to advance in society. Known locally as the “dirt spoon” generation, many are obsessed with ways to get rich quickly, like with cryptocurrencies and the lottery. South Korea has one of the largest markets for virtual currency in the world.Like the prize money in the show, cryptocurrencies give “people the chance to change their lives in a second,” said Mr. Koo, the office worker. Mr. Koo, whose previous employer went out of business during the pandemic, said the difficulty of earning money is one reason South Koreans are so obsessed with making a quick buck.“I wonder how many people would participate if ‘Squid Game’ was held in real life,” he said.Seong Gi-hun, the show’s protagonist, entering an arena for one of the games.Netflix More

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    Are you still not working because of the pandemic? We want to hear from you.

    The economy has begun to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic, but millions of people still haven’t returned to work. Some are looking but haven’t been able to find jobs. Others can’t work because of child care or other responsibilities. Still others say the pandemic led them to rethink how they prioritize their careers.What is keeping you on the sidelines right now? How are you getting by financially without a steady paycheck? How has your time away from work changed your life, both now and in the future?Tell us about your experience. More

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    They Never Could Work From Home. These Are Their Stories.

    Day after day, they went to work.While white-collar America largely worked from the cocoons of their homes, these workers left for jobs elsewhere. Most had no choice.For many workers around the country, the Delta variant’s surge this summer upended long-awaited plans to return to the office this fall. But millions more — including nurses, cashiers, restaurant and grocery workers, delivery drivers, factory workers, janitors and housekeepers — never worked from home in the first place.“They’re the people who often are working around the public, often working in jobs that are requiring them to be at particular risk from the virus,” said Eliza Forsythe, an economist at the University of Illinois. “All of these types of jobs where you’re not sitting at a computer — that’s what’s really been the backbone for allowing the rest of the economy to go remote.”More than a year and a half after the pandemic disrupted nearly all aspects of everyday life, one of the starkest economic divides to emerge has been between workers who can work from home and those who cannot.We asked six never-remote workers about their experiences and they shared their stories below.Just 35 percent of Americans — fewer than 50 million people out of 137 million — worked from home at some point in May 2020 because of the pandemic, when remote work was at its peak, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Those who could not work from home were employed in a wide array of industries, including health care, agriculture, leisure and hospitality, retail, transportation, construction and manufacturing. Many were considered part of the army of frontline and essential workers, with jobs that were considered so critical that they could not be put on hold even during a public health crisis. They were typically lower-wage, less educated and disproportionately people of color. During a time when millions of Americans lost their jobs, a portion of these workers — those who worked throughout the pandemic or who were only unable to work in the early days of the virus — could be considered relatively lucky. At the same time, many of these never-remote workers could not afford, or did not have the necessary skills, to find other jobs despite the fear of contagion. And a large share also lost their jobs completely, in part because they were unable to work remotely when their businesses temporarily or permanently closed during the pandemic. Many of these workers had jobs in the service industry. Perhaps most importantly, the pandemic has shed more light on how grueling and thankless many of these never-remote jobs are — a parallel universe of work in which millions of employees did not have the luxury of thinking about returning to the office at all.(The workers’ interviews have been edited for length and clarity.)Anjannette Reyes, 54, Orlando, Fla.Airport wheelchair attendantPhotography by Eve Edelheit for The New York TimesSo many didn’t come back to work. People are afraid to work at the airport. We push more than one wheelchair at the same time because we don’t have manpower. Sometimes for international flights, we have 17 wheelchairs and only two of us. We take them through security and run to get the others. People miss flights. People cry. We’re constantly apologizing.I was recently hurt from pushing too many wheelchairs. My whole arm felt like needles and pounding. The doctor said I had a tear. I was off for two weeks. I didn’t get paid for that.I earn $7.58 an hour plus tips. You don’t get sick pay. You don’t get vacation pay. There’s no retirement pay. There are other people who are injured and still pushing chairs. There’s people with back ulcers and shoulder pain. Co-workers are getting sick. I tell them, “Go home.” But they don’t. They rely on the tips to survive.Even though I’m going through this, I don’t feel safe getting another job out there. If there’s another breakout, we’ll feel safer at the airport. This is the only place that kept on going because they needed to move people around — people who were sick, doctors, lawyers. We needed to keep the airport open.Avelina Mendes, 63, Brockton, Mass.College custodianPhotography by Gretchen Ertl for The New York TimesAt first, I didn’t know how serious the virus was. I mean, I protected myself, but I didn’t pay that much attention to it until my sister got Covid. It was Dec. 27.She had the symptoms. She’s 75. She decided to go to the emergency room so she took a shower and then, all of a sudden, she collapsed. She hurt her back. She’s been paralyzed since.She’s in a nursing home now. I used to go and see her from the window and we would talk on the phone. She would tell me what she wants and I would bring it. She likes to eat Cape Verdean food.Every time I think about it, I cry. Then I wipe my tears, put my mask on and go to work.I clock in. I put all the trash outside. After I disinfect the bathroom, I vacuum the lobby. As long as it’s not that many cases on campus, I feel pretty good about it.But if it goes up, that’s when the fear comes. I panic. I lose sleep. When I think about my sister, that could be me. I am out all the time, doing the work.Kim Ducote, 42, St. George, UtahRestaurant server and homeless shelter case managerPhotography by Bridget Bennett for The New York TimesI was jobless from March 15 to August of 2020, and I had $200 left in my bank account. And some friends of mine opened a restaurant and they offered me a serving position there. I was the only server. And I thought ‘Oh my god, this was a godsend.’ Like, I had no idea what I was going to do. I’m down to $200 in my bank, no options. I didn’t really want to go back into the service industry but this was the only opportunity that presented itself.I went back, and things were starting to look up and go well. And I started making money again and people were loving this food and we were really quickly building a name for ourselves. And in October, all three of us got Covid so we had to shut down for I think it was just over six weeks.The husband-and-wife chef team — they got Covid really bad. Their symptoms were pretty severe. And for me, I just had a terrible headache, a very slight cough and severe exhaustion for about three days, and then I bounced right back. And they were unsure how long it was going to take them to reopen.So during that time, I decided ‘Well, I can’t be jobless again for an indefinite period of time. I have to look for something else.’ So I applied at a local homeless shelter and I got a job there.Juan Sanchez Bernal, 62, Harrison, N.J.Commuter rail custodianPhotography by Juan Arredondo for The New York TimesWhen the pandemic began, the number of people we saw in the offices, it almost dropped to half. It created panic. Many of us would have loved to work from home, but sadly, because we are cleaning people, how can we?One employee from our group got sick and died. I felt sad. We were a team, you know? We talked about baseball, basketball, about the countries we came from.This is the country that chose us. If in a moment of crisis, we got to choose between the things we like and the things we don’t like, what’s the contribution we are making? We have all done the essential work required — we have all contributed our grain of sand.We didn’t stop working. I arrive at 6 in the morning. We take out the trash. We are always disinfecting. We always use masks.My youngest daughter studied from home because her university was closed. She was watching over me. When I came back from work, she was all over me: Did you wash your hands? Take off your clothes! Take a shower right now! My other daughter called all the time.I would tell them, ‘Remember that everybody who was born has to die, so calm down.’ They laughed. If you get more stressed, you’ll die faster. So, you better laugh.Isabela Burrows, 19, Grand Blanc, Mich.Pet store workerPhotography by Brittany Greeson for The New York TimesI don’t want people to be treated the same way that I have been and to feel that loneliness and fear that I felt.I started working at a major pet store in late September last year. I made $10.50 an hour. For the first five months of my job, I was just a cashier. One day, a tall, bulky man leaned around my Plexiglas shield and purposely coughed. I think we were out of the dog food that he needed or something.My brother passed on May 22. He was my little buddy. He had a stroke that crushed his brain stem. He couldn’t keep going, so we decided it would be best if we took him off life support. My manager was not empathetic or compassionate. She even told me to just get over it, that my feelings from home didn’t transfer over to work. It was traumatic. I was not comfortable working in that store anymore. I transferred in mid-June.My new store is short staffed. We’re all being wrung dry. You’ll be trying to unload inventory from a truck shipment and then there will be someone needing fish or four different phone calls. Sometimes someone will forget to give the birds more millet.I’m worried about the weather getting cold again, if the cases will spike and whether my family and co-workers will be safe. I’ve already had one loss this year.April Fitch, 58, Newark, N.J.Airport security guardPhotography by Juan Arredondo for The New York TimesMore people would have preferred to stay home or work from home. If I had that opportunity, I would have, most definitely.I caught Covid at the end of March. I was not feeling well. My mom was in a nursing home. I called her on April 6 and told her that my birthday was soon. I told her, “I’m coming to break you out of the house.” She laughed. On April 8, the nursing home called me and told me she was taken to the hospital. A week later she passed away due to Covid.I ended up using two weeks of vacation days, all of my sick days and they gave me my three days for bereavement. There was no time to even deal with the fact that I lost my mom while I was dealing with Covid myself.The first day going back to work was scary. I’m still scared. It’s very crowded now. I try to stay six feet apart. If someone asks me a question, I try to keep them at a distance.Aidan Gardiner contributed reporting on the worker interviews. Eduardo Varas translated Juan Sanchez’s interview from Spanish. More

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    Poverty in U.S. Declined Thanks to Government Aid, Census Report Shows

    When government benefits are taken into account, a smaller share of the population was living in poverty in 2020 even as the pandemic eliminated millions of jobs.The share of people living in poverty in the United States fell to a record low last year as an enormous government relief effort helped offset the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression.In the latest and most conclusive evidence that poverty fell because of the aid, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday that 9.1 percent of Americans were living below the poverty line last year, down from 11.8 percent in 2019. That figure — the lowest since records began in 1967, according to calculations from researchers at Columbia University — is based on a measure that accounts for the impact of government programs. The official measure of poverty, which leaves out some major aid programs, rose to 11.4 percent of the population.The new data will almost surely feed into a debate in Washington about efforts by President Biden and congressional leaders to enact a more lasting expansion of the safety net that would extend well beyond the pandemic. Democrats’ $3.5 trillion plan, which is still taking shape, could include paid family and medical leave, government-supported child care and a permanent expansion of the Child Tax Credit.Liberals cited the success of relief programs, which were also highlighted in an Agriculture Department report last week that showed that hunger did not rise in 2020, to argue that such policies ought to be expanded. But conservatives argue that higher federal spending is not needed and would increase the federal debt while discouraging people from working.The fact that poverty did not rise more during an enormous economic disruption reflects the equally enormous response. Congress expanded unemployment benefits and food aid, doled out hundreds of billions of dollars to small businesses and sent direct checks to most Americans. The Census Bureau estimated that the direct checks alone lifted 11.7 million people out of poverty last year; unemployment benefits and nutrition assistance prevented an additional 10.3 million people from falling into poverty, according to an analysis of the data by The New York Times.“It all points toward the historic income support that was delivered in response to the pandemic and how successful it was at blunting what could have been a historic rise in poverty,” said Christopher Wimer, a co-director of the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at the Columbia University School of Social Work. “I imagine the momentum from 2020 will continue into 2021.”Poverty rose much more after the previous recession, peaking at 16.1 percent in 2011, by the measure that takes fuller account of government assistance, and improving only slowly after that. Many economists have argued that the federal government did not do enough back then and pulled back aid too quickly.Despite the more aggressive response this time, however, median household income last year fell 2.9 percent, adjusted for inflation, to about $68,000. That figure includes unemployment benefits but not stimulus checks or noncash benefits such as food stamps. The decline reflects the pandemic’s toll on jobs: About 13.7 million fewer people worked full time year-round compared with 2019. More

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    800,000 New Yorkers Just Lost Federal Unemployment Benefits

    Many pandemic-era federal programs expired on Sunday, leaving jobless New Yorkers with more modest state unemployment benefits, or no aid at all.From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, New York City has been pummeled economically unlike any other large American city, as a sustained recovery has failed to take root and hundreds of thousands of workers have yet to find full-time jobs.On Sunday, the city, like other communities nationwide, was hit with another blow: The package of pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits, which has kept families afloat for 17 months, expired.In short order, roughly $463 million in weekly unemployment assistance for New York City residents is ending, threatening to upend the city’s fledgling economic rebound and slashing the only source of income for some to pay rent and buy groceries in a city rife with inequality. About 10 percent of the city’s population, or about 800,000 people, will have federal aid eliminated, though many will continue receiving state benefits.The benefits were the sole income for the many self-employed workers and contract employees whose jobs are central to the city’s economy and vibrancy — taxi drivers, artists and hairdressers, among many others — and who do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits. “To just cut people off, it’s ridiculous and it’s unethical and it’s evil,” said Travis Curry, 34, a freelance photographer who will lose all his assistance, about $482 a week. “If we can’t buy food or go to local businesses because we don’t have money to live in New York, how will New York come back?”Federal officials say that more Americans are ready to return to work, and Republican lawmakers and small business owners have blamed the benefits for discouraging people from working at a time when there are a record number of job openings.In recent weeks, President Biden has said that states like New York with high unemployment rates could turn to leftover federal pandemic aid to extend benefits after his administration decided not to ask Congress to authorize an extension. In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who last week signed a new moratorium on evictions after the Supreme Court ended federal protections, said the state could not afford to extend the benefits on its own and would need the federal government to provide additional money. A spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio did not respond to requests for comment.Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state could not afford to keep financing unemployment assistance without additional federal aid.Stephanie Keith for The New York TimesThe expiring of unemployment benefits ends a period of extraordinary federal intervention to prop up the economy over the past year and a half as the virus has ravaged the country, claiming the lives of 649,000 people and leaving millions of laid-off workers struggling to secure new jobs. .css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-1kpebx{margin:0 auto;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1kpebx{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1gtxqqv{margin-bottom:0;}.css-19zsuqr{display:block;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}The federal programs supplemented standard and far more modest state unemployment benefits. New York City was the first major city in the United States to be hit hard by the pandemic, decimating industries almost overnight that underpinned the city’s economy, from tourism to hospitality to office buildings. Economists have projected that New York City may not fully regain all its pandemic job losses until 2024.The federal assistance provided new streams of financial aid beyond regular unemployment payments, which are distributed by states. Jobless Americans received a $600 per week supplement, which was later reduced under Mr. Biden to $300 per week. Unemployment benefits were also offered to contract workers and the self-employed, who under normal circumstances do not qualify for assistance. Payments were extended beyond the 26 weeks offered by most states.The end of the $300 federal supplement means those who still qualify for regular benefits through New York State will lose about half of their weekly assistance.Since the jobless programs rolled out in April 2020, New York City residents have collected about $53.5 billion in unemployment aid, primarily among lower-paid workers in the service, hospitality and arts industries, according to a recent report by the economist James Parrott of the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs. The recipients also tended to be people of color, who have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s economic and health toll. That includes Ericka Tircio, who lost her job cleaning a 40-story office building in Manhattan’s Financial District in March 2020 and contracted the disease around the same time. She has collected assistance since then, but it will be reduced by about $300 per week. Ms. Tircio, an immigrant from Ecuador who has a 6-year-old son, said her company told her recently that she might be asked to return to work in the coming months.“I’m praying to God that they call me back,” Ms. Tircio, who speaks Spanish, said through a translator. “There are moments when I’ve waited so long that I feel myself falling into a depression.”Ms. Tircio is a member of 32BJ SEIU, a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union, whose president, Kyle Bragg, said thousands of its members had been laid off during the pandemic.“Workers should not be left behind to fend for themselves during the worst crisis in a century,” Mr. Bragg said.In recent months, about half the states elected to end their pandemic-related benefits long before the expiration this weekend, a deadline set by the federal government when a vigorous recovery appeared to be on the horizon. In states led by Republican governors, elected officials said that the assistance stymied economic growth and resulted in labor shortages; however, the job growth in those states has not been substantially different than in states that kept the programs.In New York, business leaders have advocated for the state to end the pandemic unemployment benefits, arguing that they hurt small businesses struggling to hire workers. Thomas Grech, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said several job fairs he hosted over the summer were poorly attended.“People were disincentivized to go to work,” Mr. Grech said. “They’re making more money sitting at home. It’s a classic case of good intentions gone bad.”Mr. Grech said that raising wages as a way to lure workers, as some labor economists and advocates have recommended, was unrealistic for some restaurants “unless you want to spend $30 or $40 for a burger.”Elected officials in New York have argued that unemployment benefits helped pump money directly into the economy.“People who receive emergency unemployment assistance are going to turn around and spend that money, and that money is helpful to other people who are also struggling to get things back to normal,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, a Democrat who represents Lower Manhattan.The expiration of the benefits was supposed to coincide with a grand reopening of sorts for New York, as many companies announced during an early summer dip in virus cases that workers would be called back to the office in September. But the Delta variant has fueled a resurgence of the virus, postponing any hope that Manhattan’s office buildings would soon refill. Months of moderate job gains stalled over the summer and the city’s unemployment rate, 10.2 percent, increased slightly in July and is nearly double the national average.Bill Wilkins, who oversees economic development for the Local Development Corporation of East New York in Brooklyn, said unemployment and other benefits helped sustain his neighborhood, which has long suffered from high joblessness. But as the pandemic recedes from its peak, he said it was also “incumbent for individuals to be more self-reliant.”The pandemic exposed the significant skills gap in New York City, he said, resulting in large numbers of unemployed workers who do not qualify for job openings that require a college degree, such as high-paying jobs in the tech sector.“If you want a job right now, you have a job,” Mr. Wilkins said, referring to lower-paying openings at many mom-and-pop shops. “The problem is, is that job a sustainable wage? You want the higher-paying jobs, but you have to have the requisite skills that demand that type of salary.”Alex Weisman, an actor, registered for unemployment benefits for the first time after the pandemic shut down Broadway, where he had been in the ensemble for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” The checks, which ranged from about $800 to $1,100 a week, allowed him to keep paying rent for his apartment in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.When the pandemic shut down Broadway, including “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” it left Alex Weisman, an actor in the show’s ensemble, jobless and reliant on supplemental federal unemployment assistance.Erin Schaff/The New York TimesMr. Weisman, 34, submits audition videos every week, hoping for steady work. Earlier this year, he booked a television job for five weeks, which allowed him to briefly go off unemployment benefits.As his benefits run out, he is considering connecting with a temp agency to find work. The last time he had a job outside acting was as a barista in 2013.“I’m going to have to get an entry-level position somewhere,” Mr. Weisman said. “Because I succeeded in the thing that I trained in and wanted to do, I have absolutely nothing to offer any other industry. It’s scary.”Mohammad Kashem, who worked for nearly two decades as a taxi driver, had similar difficulties switching industries. Before the pandemic, a bank had seized his taxi medallion after he struggled to repay his loans amid a sharp drop in yellow cab ridership. Mr. Kashem, an immigrant from Bangladesh who lives in Brooklyn, worked as a postal carrier during the pandemic but quit after one month, saying he was unaccustomed to delivering mail through rain and snow. His family has been relying on $700 a week in unemployment benefits. He and his wife could not maintain jobs during the pandemic because of health issues, he said, noting that they both contracted the coronavirus and have high blood pressure and diabetes.When the unemployment benefits expire, his wife may try finding a job as a babysitter. Mr. Kashem, 50, has been wracked with anxiety about how he will pay for rent and school supplies for his three children.“I was driving taxi many, many years,” Mr. Kashem said. “I’m not used to another job.” More