End of extra $600 for unemployed workers looming

End of extra $600 for unemployed workers looming

BOSTON — It’s the final week for unemployed workers to receive the extra $600 weekly boost in their benefits check. While lawmakers are discussing a potential second wave of stimulus checks, that could be a ways away.

Ryan McHugh is a full-time musician and said he will be left in limbo without the extra cash. For him, he makes a living playing live gigs and said there are rarely any restaurants in the state hiring acts.

“I’m feeling a little bit like they’re not connecting the dots. They’re leaving us behind a little bit because they’re not allowing us to work, but also they’re not allowing us to collect that $600, which kept us above water,” McHugh said.

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McHugh has been lucky enough to make his passion his career and it’s been lucrative until the pandemic hit.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had a lull, it’s been nonstop since 2004,” McHugh said.

He plays solo gigs in bars and restaurants or with a live band at weddings. But, the state restrictions have limited those available options.

Now, with the enhanced benefit check coming to an end, he’s uncertain where this leaves him. Like so many others, McHugh is waiting on a decision from Congress on whether or not to extend the benefits.

“Right now I’m heading towards that part where I’m like, ‘oh, this could be tricky,’” McHugh said.

While some outdoor places in the state are able to hire for live music, McHugh said most good-paying jobs are out of state, forcing musicians to travel and adhere to strict guidelines for testing.

While lawmakers talk about sending out a second stimulus check, it could still be weeks until people who need help get relief.

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