For Curtis Hoover, the freelance designing gig came just in time. His regular state unemployment benefits had run out, as had the weekly $600 supplement that Congress approved to help jobless workers make it through the pandemic. He was still eligible for payments under an emergency extension of benefits for 13 weeks, but the clock was ticking on that assistance as well.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Mr. Hoover, who got his first assignment this week. “I’m very grateful that I can work in my safe environment, although it’s odd jumping in as a team member when you have never met the team face to face.”
Mr. Hoover, who is 57 and lives in Reading, Pa., lost his job as a graphic designer last year. His search for new work got off to a slow start. He had an interview the week before the shutdowns — and remembers debating whether he should shake hands at the meeting — but it went nowhere. Two other interviews were canceled in the following weeks.
Last month, as the expiration of the $600 supplement loomed, he prepared for the steep cut in income. He pared his spending, canceling Netflix, ending his gym membership, and shopping more carefully at the supermarket.
“I’m in a fortunate position because I paid off my house several years ago,” Mr. Hoover said. “If I had a mortgage, I’d be in deep trouble by now.”