Many Americans have relied on the $600 weekly COVID-19 unemployment benefit to get through the pandemic. However, it’s about to expire. When?
The extra $600 unemployment benefit is set to expire in 49 states on July 25, according to The Washington Post, which added that the benefits expire in New York state on July 26.
This affects a lot of people. According to Vox, through June, 33 million Americans received unemployment benefits. How it worked: Congress approved giving an extra $600 per week to people receiving unemployment to get them through the pandemic. That’s on top of the amount in unemployment people were receiving from whichever state they lived in.
The question is whether Congress will extend the $600 benefits. However, that measure would have to get through the Republican-controlled Senate. The Democratic House did pass an extension of the benefits through January 2021 in its version of the second stimulus package. The Senate Majority Leader has indicated debate on the second stimulus package could begin the third week of July in the Senate.
“The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act substantially expanded Unemployment Insurance (UI) in order to help workers losing jobs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. One provision of the act creates an additional $600 weekly benefit known as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. The size of the payment—$600—is designed to replace 100 percent of the mean U.S. wage when combined with mean state UI benefits,” a working paper from researchers with the University of Chicago explained in May.
Here’s what you need to know:
The GOP & White House Have Indicated Lately That They Might Be Open to Extending the Benefit But May Support a Lower Amount
Republican opposition to extending the $600 benefit was once pretty firm. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina even said the benefit would get extended “over our dead bodies,” according to Forbes.
However, according to The Washington Post, top Trump administration officials are warming up to the idea of some extension of the benefits.
The concern among some Republicans is that the $600 extra weekly benefit makes it less likely people will return to jobs by providing a financial incentive for them to stay home. According to The Post, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on television that the administration wants to make sure that extended benefits wouldn’t exceed 100% of the worker’s past wages. However, that signaled the administration might be open to some extension.
Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow indicated the administration is open to unemployment “reforms,” The Post reported, adding that one compromise being floated would cut the extra $600 to between $200-$400 in addition to sending out a second stimulus check to some Americans. A spokesman for the White House told The Post that the president doesn’t support extending the full $600 but might be open to less.
The University of Chicago article found that “68% of unemployed workers who are eligible for UI will receive benefits which exceed lost earnings. The median replacement rate is 134%, and one out of five eligible unemployed workers will receive benefits at least twice as large as their lost earnings. Thus, the CARES Act actually provides income expansion rather than replacement for most unemployed workers. We also show that there is sizable variation in the effects of the CARES Act across occupations and across states, with important distributional consequences. For example, the median retail worker who is laid-o can collect 142% of their prior wage in UI, while grocery workers are not receiving any automatic pay increases. Janitors working at businesses that remain open do not necessarily receive any hazard pay, while unemployed janitors who worked at businesses that shut down can collect 158% of their prior wages.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Has Predicted a Second Stimulus Package Will Happen
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is “predicting” that a second COVID-19 stimulus “rescue package” will happen, and he said it “could well” include second direct stimulus check payments to some Americans.
What form it will take, however, and whether people will get second stimulus checks, and in what amount, is all uncertain. According to Bloomberg, McConnell, a Republican, made the comments at a news conference in his home state of Kentucky. The news site reported that McConnell said: “We shouldn’t lightly add more to the national debt, but I’m predicting that we will have one more rescue package, which we’ll begin to debate and discuss next week.”
McConnell’s comments came on Monday, July 6 in Kentucky. Could there be a more stringent income limit on a second stimulus check? McConnell hinted maybe so, saying, “I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less. And many of them work in the hospitality industry.” He said the hospitality industry, hotels, restaurants, was hit hard. He added that the Senate will consider a proposal July 20.
President Trump said recently, “We will be doing another stimulus package, it will be very good, very generous.” Asked if there would be a second check, Trump also said, “We are, we are” and said it would be “very dramatic, very good.”
The Washington Post reported: “President Trump has told aides he is largely supportive of sending Americans another round of stimulus checks, expressing the belief that the payments will boost the economy and help his chances at reelection in November.”
According to CNBC, Federal law gives those who lost jobs due to COVID-19 extra weeks of benefits. Those additional 13 weeks came under the federal CARES Act, which was a bill designed to provide COVID-19 help.
“That means individuals can get about three more months of benefits once they exhaust their standard state allotment, which generally lasts for 26 weeks,” CNBC reported, adding that the average American “gets about $380 a week.” That aid doesn’t expire until the end of the year. and it’s different from the $600 benefit.
The Wisconsin Division of Workforce Development advised that the “additional $600 per week benefit paid under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program will expire the week ending July 25, 2020. An individual still waiting on a decision regarding their unemployment eligibility will receive all back weeks of FPUC due to them, even if that decision is made after July 25, 2020.” The site noted: “DWD has no control over FPUC ending. The Federal government makes that decision. There is no extension planned at this time.”