This statement was published in response to the July 23, 2020 release of jobs numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the most up-to-date data please visit TCF’s comprehensive UI data dashboard here.
There is one clear takeaway from this morning’s unemployment insurance (UI) report: not extending the weekly $600 benefit supplement would be unconscionable. For the last three months of the acute COVID-19 crisis, jobless families and our economy have counted on the $600 boost, both to keep the lights on and to keep the economy from a Great Depression-like crash. Little has changed since then: the unemployment crisis is showing few signs of improving, and the virus is spreading rapidly across much of the country. No one wins and everyone loses if we allow supplemental UI benefits to expire with no replacement. Families will be evicted from their homes, poverty will soar, children will go hungry, businesses will shutter and the economy will tank.
Today’s report shows numerous indicators of the damage that could be wrought by the premature end of federal UI benefits. On a seasonally adjusted basis, new claims for state benefits were up by 100,000, as 1.4 million people applied for state benefits. Claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) ticked upward from 956,000 to 975,000. Moreover, the number of workers filing ongoing claims has hardly budged since our research indicated that more than 25 million Americans could be impacted by the cut-off. Ongoing claims for core regular unemployment benefits came in at 16.4 million this week, virtually unchanged from June 27, when they totaled 16.5 million.
The trend in new UI claims has stopped declining not because unemployment benefits are too generous, but because companies have stopped calling their employees back as the virus has spiked. Indeed, economist Ernie Tedeschi has found that, when a job is offered to them, Americans are willing and able to return to work even if it means making less than they would on unemployment.
When Congress put into place the CARES Act benefits, 8.2 million workers were collecting unemployment. Taking into account the 13 million claims for PUA (which will continue through December 31), there are a total of 33.8 million workers filing for unemployment this week. Given these realities, it’s preposterous that Senate leaders are floating a $100 weekly supplement at a time when there is no end in sight to economic distress.
The lack of Senate GOP leadership is what put American families and communities in this dire situation to begin with. What’s needed now are serious proposals and negotiations to find a way to restart these benefits. Failing to act would be economic malpractice and political senselessness.”
Stettner analyzed the impacts of Congress allowing expanded UI benefits to sunset in a recent report, projecting that:
- More than 25 million workers will lose the $600 federal unemployment supplement, to the tune of more than $15 billion per week.
- Workers are set to experience a benefit cut of between 50 and 85 percent depending on the state they live in, with the largest cuts coming in states with large shares of Black claimants like Georgia, Delaware, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and North Carolina.
- Many of the ten states facing the largest loss because of the PUC cut-off are 2020 battleground states: Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.