- With the coronavirus leaving millions out of work, individuals filing for unemployment have been eligible for an additional $600 per week.
- The $600 unemployment bump will expire on July 31.
- Some lawmakers are pushing to extend the expiration date, but their proposals are being met with plenty of resistance.
The coronavirus pandemic has left millions upon millions of Americans in dire economic straits. With lockdown measures enacted across much of the country, stores were forced to close and, in turn, left millions of people stuck at home without a job or any chance of securing a paycheck.
As a result, the number of unemployment claims in the country skyrocketed to record levels. As of last month, more than 40 million Americans are filing for unemployment each week, which is the largest figure the country has seen in decades. As a point of contrast, the number of new weekly unemployment claims earlier just before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country was somewhere in the 210,000 range.
Consequently, many states over the past few months implemented a number of tweaks to their unemployment programs. Some states, for instance, expanded the type of individuals capable of qualifying for unemployment benefits. What’s more, the $2 trillion stimulus package signed by President Trump in March included a $600 bump in weekly unemployment benefits.
The $600 per week increase is nice, but it’s not going to last forever. As it stands now, the aforementioned unemployment bump is slated to expire on July 31.
There have since been calls to extend the unemployment bump for an additional period of time. Specifically, Democratic lawmakers have argued that the $600 increase should remain in place until the economy starts to turn around. Republican lawmakers, naturally, aren’t entirely on board.
The Los Angeles Times adds:
The Worker Relief and Security Act, introduced by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), would extend the $600-per-week benefit for 30 days past the president’s emergency declaration. Then they propose phasing out the funding, with changes triggered by each state’s unemployment rate. States with highest unemployment rates would receive a $450 weekly bump to start, and then it would decrease to $300. States with lower unemployment rates would start with $350 weekly compensation, which would decrease to $200.
All told, with the number of coronavirus cases spiking across the country, there’s a good chance that we haven’t yet seen the worst of it. What’s more, with fall just a few months away, there’s a very real concern that a second — and potentially more dangerous — wave might spring up once the weather starts to cool. In turn, there’s a very real chance that the millions of Americans who desperately needed unemployment benefits along with the $600 bump will be in the same situation in October that they were in this past April.
One interesting facet of this conversation is that some people are making more off unemployment than they were working their normal jobs. As a result, some Republican lawmakers have said that this disincentives people to return to the workforce or even explore new job opportunities.
Looking ahead, it stands to reason that the unemployment debate will start dominating the news cycle once July rolls around.