Saturday marks the beginning of the end for Americans who’ve been relying on enhanced unemployment benefits for the past year and a half.
More than 300,000 jobless Americans in Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, and Missouri will stop receiving the extra $300 a week months before those benefits were originally set to expire in early September, according to calculations performed by Andrew Stettner an expert in unemployment benefits at the Century Foundation, a progressive think-tank.
Americans in at least 21 other Republican-led states will stop receiving the $300 benefit in the coming weeks as well.
The governors of the 25 states, which include Arizona, Texas and Ohio, say the extra $300 a week is overly generous and is contributing to mounting complaints they hear from employers who cannot fill job vacancies.
In total, more than 4 million Americans will be cut off from unemployment benefits in the coming weeks — some 2 million of whom will be left without any unemployment aid, according to Stettner’s estimates.
Over the past two months some 837,000 jobs were added — far below the 1.6 million jobs economists were forecasting for April and May. Meanwhile, there were some 9.3 million unfilled positions in the U.S. in April, according to the Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.
That’s equivalent to the number of people who are currently unemployed, according to the latest jobs report.
Over the past two months some 837,000 jobs were added — far below the 1.6 million jobs economists were forecasting for April and May
President Joe Biden, along with several fellow Democratic lawmakers, argues that the $300 benefit is not holding back workers from seeking out new employment opportunities, citing prior economic research.
Enhanced unemployment benefits “helped people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and who still may be in the process of getting vaccinated,” Biden said Friday. “But it will expire in 90 days. That makes sense — that it will expire in 90 days,” he added.
Besides unemployment benefits, a wave of early retirements, a lack of child-care options and a lingering fear of coronavirus may be contributing to the climbing number of job openings in the U.S, some economists say.
A slew of other states not including Alaska, Arizona, Florida and Ohio are also prematurely cutting jobless recipients from other federal unemployment benefits programs including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).
The PUA program, initially enacted through the CARES Act, enabled gig workers, self-employed workers and independent contractors to collect unemployment benefits. Without the program, these workers will not qualify for any unemployment benefits.
The PEUC program extended the number of weeks unemployed workers could collect benefits after exhausting the number of weeks allotted by their states.