‘Two steps backward.’ With jobless pay but still no job, financial stress takes a toll.

Marcos Quintana, 29, was laid off in December from his job as a seasonal custodian at a school in Bakersfield, Calif. He expected to find new work quickly, but the pandemic hit, and many custodial jobs dried up.

He started receiving $200 a week in state unemployment benefits, as well as a $600 boost from the federal government. When the $600 program expired in late July and his state unemployment benefits ran out, he was left with $230 a week from Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, a federal program for those whose state benefits have expired.

Mr. Quintana lived with his girlfriend, who lost her job as a hairstylist in March when salons closed. She filed for unemployment benefits but never received them, so Mr. Quintana supported them, paying the $935 in rent and as much as $300 in utilities for their apartment. To avoid falling behind on his $357 car payment and $185 car insurance bill, he cut off cable television and borrowed from his father.

Then Mr. Quintana found that he was eligible for Lost Wages Assistance, a short-term supplement that provides $300 a week from federal disaster funds. He was certified to receive the payments on Sept. 15, but he’s not sure when they will arrive.

Regardless, the money will be too late to avoid upheaval in Mr. Quintana’s life. His relationship with his girlfriend soured as the financial stress mounted. And Mr. Quintana couldn’t afford their bills.

So last week the couple split, and he moved in with his parents.

“I feel like a kid again,” he said. “Like I’ve taken two steps backward in life.”

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