PHOENIX - For the hundreds of thousands of Arizonans collecting unemployment benefits, today marks a significant moment.
The extra weekly $600 unemployment benefit comes to an end now unless Congress acts, and families in Arizona are going to have to make some tough choices in the days ahead.
Claimants in Arizona will receive the second lowest benefit in the country from the Department of Economic Security.
"It’s going to be hard to live on $240 a week," said unemployed Arizonan Kim Smith. "That’s not a lot of money."
Another resident Todd Serna lost his job in the airline industry. Serna's wife is high risk during the pandemic and they have two teenage girls.
"If you choose to have taxes taken out, which is always the smart thing, it’s $212 a week. So that extra benefit is huge," said Serna.
As unemployment claims in Arizona increased for the third straight week, Serna says he is tired of the misconceptions of why so many collect unemployment while looking for jobs.
"People thinking that we're just staying home, and were not looking for work, or we just don’t want to go back to work," Serna said.
He says he hopes Congress acts fast, because his family is going to have to discuss what bills to pay and what bills to hold out on.
"Not only [to] have the stress of how you’re going to put food on the table, and pay the bills, and pay your rent, and have a roof over your head -- but you have the fear and frustration of the pandemic," he explained.
Governor Doug Ducey won’t say what options he’s considering. Instead, he is saying he’s keeping an eye on what Congress does first.
Even if it gets extended at a lower rate, Serna says that would be enough.
"To completely cut it away during this time ... would be tragic for a lot of families," Serna said.