SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California's economy is slowly coming back to life, gaining nearly a million payroll jobs over the past year. Yet, about three million Californians are still collecting unemployment -- And for about two million of them, pandemic benefits are coming to an abrupt end on September 4.
Some say it's like falling off a cliff, and the Employment Development Department is warning folks to be ready. Millions who lost their jobs just because of the pandemic are about to lose their benefits, too.
RELATED: EDD to issue 'conditional payments' to clear backlog, but critics remain skeptical
Michael Gumora was writing a "rideshare blog," earning money by referring drivers to Uber and Lyft. He'd bought himself unemployment insurance years ago, so when income dried up in the pandemic, the EDD paid his benefits.
But now, "It's done, it's run out, it's over. I'll have to get creative once again," he says.
"Very grateful there was some income," he added.
Now millions of Californians are about to be cut off from special pandemic benefits that expire on Sept. 4.
"Right now we have about three million Californians on some form of unemployment insurance," says former EDD director Michael Bernick. "If no changes are made between now and September fourth roughly... two million Californians will see their benefits end."
VIDEO: Unemployed people must look for work to continue receiving benefits, EDD says
Among the biggest changes: the federal government will stop adding that $300-per-week bonus to everyone's unemployment checks.
Also the federal government will end the first-of-its-kind program that has paid unemployment benefits to non-traditional workers. It means no more benefits for gig workers, independent contractors, and the self-employed.
Also expiring is a program known as Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extended benefits up to 53 weeks for those with expired claims.
EXCLUSIVE: BofA says it wants out of unemployment benefits contract as EDD renews
The EDD is now urging everyone on unemployment to find a job.
Right now that might seem easy - the state added nearly one million payroll jobs over the past year. However, some say it's not that simple.
Bernick, who now works as the research director for the California Workforce Association, says the economy has changed since the pandemic: many businesses shut down, workers moved. Many worry about getting sick on the job - or sending kids off to school.
"It's not such an easy process to say, well we have 3 million on unemployment and we have all these jobs and people can immediately fill them. It's not an easy match in terms of location, in terms of skills, in terms of aptitudes."
VIDEO: California lawmaker says latest EDD problems are 'beyond unacceptable'
As for Michael Gumora, he says rideshare giants no longer pay him to recruit drivers, so he's adapting his business, and thinking about what's next.
"I'll mop floors if there's a job opening," he says.
Now, a potential hope for those still out of work: the Biden administration says states may use any leftover unemployment funds to continue some of these pandemic benefits. So far, no word if California is taking up that offer.
Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
Have a question for Michael and the 7 On Your Side team? Fill out the form HERE!
7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.