Millions of Americans will lose their jobless benefits or receive lower payments once the federal unemployment program expires this year. A mix of the expiry and state rules means that once the program ends, workers unable to find work will need to do so quickly.
End of Benefit Year
Many Americans will reach the end of their “benefit year,” the anniversary since they applied for assistance. Typically, state labor agencies will review any requests for assistance once jobless benefits reach this point. Officials will assess a worker’s recent earnings record to determine if the person qualifies for a new installment of benefits.
If yes, they will also recommend the appropriate amount. This puts workers that logged in little hours during the pandemic on the dock. Posting little earnings will likely lead to lower or no benefits at all.
The federal government’s response, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, largely kept jobless benefits intact for those who lost jobs last year. This overruled the expiration of the benefit year and kept benefits steady.
However, the federal program ends nationwide after Labor Day. In fact, many Republican states already put an end to the program.
4.7 Million Americans
As of June 26, around 4.7 million people, or 33% of all recipients, already marked more than a year collecting jobless benefits. Determining the exact number will be difficult, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 2.9 million Americans were jobless for more than a year. However, it doesn’t mean they all collected jobless benefits.
Andrew Stettner is a senior fellow and unemployment expert at The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank. According to him, “Maybe there could be several hundred thousand, maybe 1 million at the high end [who’d qualify for benefits again].
And for everyone else, they’ll have to scramble to find a job, go on food stamps, use their savings. Rental assistance should still be available, but they won’t have cash income, really.”
Federal Jobless Benefits
Created by the CARES Act, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program provides aid to workers during the lockdowns. The additional benefits supplemented the state aid that covered only up to 26 weeks.
Congress already extended the program’s duration twice as the pandemic end is yet out of sight. The most recent aid program, the American Rescue Plan, extended jobless benefits to September 6.
Meanwhile, twenty-two states decided to end federal unemployment assistance a few months ahead of the deadline. This included ending aid for the long-term unemployed. In addition, another four states opted to end a $300 weekly supplement to benefits as well.
Benefits Keeping Workers From Going Back To Their Jobs
Many state officials and business owners said that the federal jobless benefits caused Americans to choose to stay home instead of looking for work. However, many others defended the program.
Many pointed out that the ongoing health risks, increased child care needs, and low wages helped in the decision. The new surge in coronavirus cases, pushed by the Delta variant, will probably keep workers dependent on the unemployment system.
Watch the TNA Network video explaining that unemployment benefits were tax-free in 2020. Don’t expect that in 2021:
What do you think about the upcoming expiration of jobless benefits later this year? Do you think the pandemic will end soon? Or, do you think many Americans will still need jobless benefits given it’s not over yet.
Let us know what you think. Share your thoughts below.