With pandemic-related stimulus payments off the table in 2022, Americans initially lifted out of poverty by those funds face an uncertain economy while the Omicron variant continues to spread.

According to a Census Bureau report in September 2021, 11.7 million Americans were lifted out of poverty during 2020 because of pandemic stimulus payments. Now that the payments have ended, many wonder how to survive 2022.

While the Biden administration has extended a pause on student loan payments, he has clarified that the pause will not last forever. Previously, Biden promised to cancel at least $10,000 of student loan debt per person, but that pledge has gone unfulfilled.

The situation can become dire for many struggling Americans. Many experts have raised the alarm about a mass homeless crisis as the federal eviction moratorium expired in 2021, but some states or areas continue to provide housing aid. Also, jobs numbers are not quite where they were pre-pandemic even though things are getting better.

Pandemic stimulus efforts also contributed to the current inflation problem, making it harder for people to survive on limited funds. While stimulus checks did not prevent people from struggling during the pandemic, they did stave off problems that could have been much worse, like mass evictions, rampant homelessness and more destroyed local businesses.

Though the economic fallout is less than initially feared that from the widespread lockdowns, the cut in government assistance leaves many Americans with fewer emergency funds to fall back on as the Omicron variant fuels further uncertainty.

For those who relied on stimulus to get through the pandemic, the end of the programs means less spending and less of a cushion to fall back on through an already turbulent time.

The good news is that most economists expect 3% to 4% real GDP growth in 2022. However, an economy that is not expected to include assistance to millions of lower-middle-class Americans may mean more pains for growth.

“Economic growth is slowing from high growth rates caused by the huge rebound off the bottom of low economic output and massive amounts of fiscal stimulus,” Gene Goldman, chief investment officer at Cetera Investment Management, told U.S. News and World Report. “However, economic growth rates are still forecast to be above pre-pandemic levels. The big story in 2022 could be the Fed and when they decide to start raising rates.”