CORONAVIRUS

$600 unemployment benefit extension: who could receive it beyond 31 July?

The unemployment rate has exploded in America and many millions of US citizens have been filing for benefits. They could change at the end of July though.

$600 unemployment benefit extension: who could receive it beyond 31 July?
JUSTIN LANE EFE

America’s unemployment has skyrocketed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Some analysis suggests it could even be worse than initially reported. The Great Depression was the worst period in American employment history with 24.9% of people out of work. That number is currently at 20% and the government says they are changing the unemployment benefits.

US citizens who lost their jobs were given help from the government but the unemployment benefits are unlikely to last beyond July. The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief law, known as the CARES Act, enhanced jobless pay for these individuals. However, the extra cash, currently $600 a week, will end after July 31. Some states are ending it a week earlier, on July 25.

That $600 is a lot higher than the $378 a week in state unemployment benefits prior to the relief law, according to the Labor Department. The law boosts that weekly total to $978 a week — a 159% increase.

Donald Trump reportedly opposes the extension of the unemployment benefits.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is offering new legislation to expand and enhance pandemic unemployment insurance. Reed’s bill would improve Unemployment Insurance (UI) provisions in the CARES Act and continue to offer out of work Americans a $600-per-week economic booster shot beyond July 31, through the end of the year.

“The economic pain and uncertainty people are feeling is real. Bills are piling up and coronavirus has taken people’s steady paychecks. Refusing to extend unemployment insurance in the midst of an ongoing pandemic could make a desperate situation worse for individuals and harm the economy. Being jobless in these uncertain times and relying on unemployment is stressful enough. If Congress arbitrarily cuts them off and tries to prematurely push them into unsafe work environments, it will cost families, businesses, and communities alike,” said Senator Reed.

Democrats have proposed a $3 trillion coronavirus spending package named the HEROES Act to help citizens and to fend off a complete collapse of society. That money would be poured into social programs as well and implement another round of direct payments to further mitigate the fallout.

Republicans are pushing against it though. Nancy Pelosi has said the Democrats have put their cards on the table with the passing go the new bill but it’s still not a law. "We’re putting our offer on the table, we’re open to negotiation," Pelosi said on Thursday, acknowledging the long odds of the bill becoming law.