Laid-Off Workers Cut Spending, Hunt for Jobs as Extra Unemployment Benefits Run Out

When the coronavirus pandemic struck the U.S. in March, Caroline Mongillo lost her part-time job at a music venue and struggled to find new work in a labor market hampered by the health crisis. But like millions of other laid-off workers, she covered expenses with the $600 a week in extra unemployment benefits provided by the federal government.

Now those benefits have expired and been replaced by a short-term extension at half the rate. The 22-year-old Grand Rapids, Mich., resident has started shopping at the dollar store for household staples such as toilet paper and pasta, tried to abstain from small luxuries such as takeout food, and has spent half of her savings.

Ms. Mongillo, who graduated from college in June with a degree in communications and media, estimated she has applied for around 50 jobs in recent weeks, mostly in marketing and advertising. Nothing has yet come through.

She said she relied on her old job—and more recently the extra unemployment benefits—to help pay for daily living expenses and $900 in monthly rent on her apartment, which she shares with her boyfriend.

“I don’t have a plan, except to continue to apply for jobs,” said Ms. Mongillo, who also is trying to generate some income selling sequined hats.

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