Changes to unemployment insurance during the height of the pandemic proved to be a lifeline for American families, keeping more than five million people out of poverty and boosting GDP. Thanks to increased and more accessible benefits, roughly three out of four jobless workers were able to receive aid during the pandemic. But today, with federal programs having expired, only one in four jobless workers receive aid—close to an all-time low.
What’s more, unemployment aid only replaces 39 percent of a worker’s prior wages ($347 per week on average), down from 79 percent one year ago ($617 per week on average). And in nearly half of states—24 in total— benefits are less than the poverty threshold for a two-person family.