Will boosted unemployment benefits continue past July? It's the question on every jobless worker's mind.
Without the $600 weekly boost that's currently in play, the typical unemployment recipient will be in line for just $380 a week, and if that comes to be, millions of Americans will inevitably struggle to make ends meet.
It's for this reason that some lawmakers have been pushing to extend boosted unemployment benefits beyond July 31, when they're set to expire. But other lawmakers are pushing back, stating that boosted unemployment isn't a good idea for a few reasons:
- The economy is opening back up.
- The jobless rate has fallen since April.
- The $600 weekly boost disincentivizes workers to return to a job.
These arguments, however, hold less water now that the COVID-19 outbreak is surging again. As cases climb and more states impose added restrictions, the economy is likely to regress and the jobless rate is likely to climb. And while it's true that workers may, indeed, prefer to stay unemployed as long as they're getting an extra $600 a week, the reality is that many jobless folks don't have a role to return to.
When lawmakers reconvene in July to discuss a second COVID-19 relief package, the topic of extending boosted unemployment is apt to come up. But even if that weekly $600 boost is extended, those who are currently collecting it may be in for a financial shock when they realize that extra money could be subject to delays.
Lawmakers need to act quickly
The CARES Act states that boosted unemployed benefits will expire on or before July 31. And most states will likely be erring on the side of "before."
The reason? Unemployment benefits are typically paid on a weekly cycle that ends on a Saturday or Sunday. This means that the $600 weekly boost will generally run out on either July 25 or July 26. Extending the boost beyond that point without changing payment cycles would mean bleeding into August.
If lawmakers don't come to an agreement to extend boosted benefits ahead of July 25, even if they do agree to keep that extra $600 in play, it could take weeks to reauthorize that additional aid, leaving unemployed workers with a gap for several weeks' time. As such, those depending on boosted unemployment should prepare now for the possibility that their benefits could drop temporarily.
Americans need that added relief
Democratic lawmakers have called to extend boosted unemployment through the end of the year. Whether that happens is yet to be determined, but it's clear that if that boost is taken away by August, the consequences will be dire. Not only will millions of Americans risk falling behind on essential expenses like rent, but they'll also have less money to pump into the economy at a time when an uptick in spending is desperately needed to break out of our current recession.
If lawmakers do vote to extend boosted unemployment, let's hope they act quickly. Otherwise, many jobless Americans will suffer for no good reason.