This statement was published in response to the June 24, 2021 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.
Today’s Labor Department report provides a clear view of the conditions facing unemployed workers before a wave of premature benefit cut-offs rolls across the country. With new claims sliding closer to historic norms (497,000, including 105,000 PUA and 393,000 state NSA, down 8,000 from last week), and continued claims staying relatively flat, it’s hard to find a sound rationale for stripping life-saving assistance from jobless workers.
Contrary to popular claims about the so-called negative impacts of the $300 weekly supplement on job finding, the number of people on benefits has been steadily decreasing in tandem with the increase in job openings. There are now 14.8 million workers on one of the major unemployment programs, including 5.9 million on PUA (down 17,000 this week), 5.3 million on PEUC (up 108,000), 3.2 million on state benefits (down 94,000 NSA), and 240,000 on EB (up 98,000). Specifically, in the month since Montana Governor Gianforte started the wave of cut offs, benefit rolls have trended downward by 1.1 million, and are down a whopping 4.6 million since the beginning of March. Not surprisingly, the exodus has been fastest from PUA, which covers those out of work for specific COVID reasons, which have lessened in recent months, with PUA claims dropping below six million for the first time since April 2020.
Come this weekend, a total of 10 states—Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah—will eliminate pandemic benefits for a staggering 2.5 million people, the largest one-week cut off. Even as state leaders impose economic harm on their residents and businesses lose paying customers, new evidence indicates that jobless workers in states maintaining unemployment benefits are searching for work more actively than in states that are stripping benefits. With work search requirements and reemployment programs back in gear, workers on unemployment insurance are more likely to get help looking for a job.
Too many leaders continue to peddle the myth that unemployment benefits are ‘paying people not to work.’ But the reality is that unemployment benefits are provided to those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and ought to last until workers can find new jobs—which millions have already done in 2021. Unfortunately, many governors have pulled the rug from under millions of workers still relying on unemployment as a bridge past this once-in-a-generation pandemic.