$300 pandemic unemployment benefits: which Democratic states have ended the payment?

More than half of all states have announced that they will cancel the additional jobless payments before the original deadline, denying residents vital support.

$300 pandemic unemployment benefits: which Democratic states have ended the payment?

Louisiana has become the latest state to announce that they will remove the $300-a-week additional unemployment benefits payments, becoming the first Democrat-led state to do so.

Gov. John Bel Edwards had said previously that he was considering cancelling the additional, federally-funded payment and he signed the legislation into law on Wednesday. For Louisiana residents the extra support will only be available until 31 July, the date on which the state’s schools are reopening.

The move will see roughly 48,000 jobless residents denied access to the programme which was set to continue until early September. Some local business have come out in support of the move, which they say will encourage people back into the workforce, but it has been criticised by many advocacy groups.

Louisiana currently has one of the lowest maximum unemployment benefits in the United States, offering just $247-a-week. In announcing the state’s withdrawal from the additional payments programmes, Edwards said the basic figure would be upped to $275-a-week from 2022.

Eight states will cancel additional unemployment benefits this weekend

Louisiana will join the 25 Republican-led states to opt out of the federal programmes, four of which ended their participation on 12 June. The latest batch to withdraw will see eight states cancel the programme from 19 June.

Those states are Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming, meaning that an estimated 417,000 unemployed people will be denied access to the vital payments.

The states are voluntarily withdrawing from the additional unemployment benefits because they claim that it is incentivising people to remain out of work. At a time when businesses are looking to recover state governors have argued that the extra $300 weekly payments are making it tougher for businesses to find workers and reopen.

Indiana lawsuit challenges the decision to cancel additional unemployment benefits

More than half of all states have now announced their intention to withdraw from the pandemic-era benefits boost, but there are efforts underway to reverse that decision. Indiana is due to end participation in the programme from 19 June but earlier this week a lawsuit filed by Indiana Legal Services, an organisation which provides free legal assistance, and the Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis is challenging the decision.

The complaint was filed in Marion County Superior Court last Monday, and claims: "By prematurely deciding to stop administering these federal benefits, Indiana has violated the clear mandates of Indiana's unemployment statute—to secure all rights and benefits available for unemployed individuals."

The lawsuit calls for an injunction which would see the payments continue until the case has been heard. However, as of Saturday morning, it had not been successful in extending the support.