Will the federal government extend the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?
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Congress and President Donald Trump are deciding whether to extend the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits workers are getting because of the pandemic.
Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer has the latest on this. She spoke with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio, and the following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
David Brancaccio: Yesterday, the U.S. labor secretary said he believes the program should not be extended?
Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia testified yesterday before the Senate Finance Committee. He pointed to last week’s unexpectedly good jobs report, which showed unemployment fell in May, to about 13%. The extra $600 a week payment is set to expire at the end of July. It’s on top of regular unemployment benefits, which would continue. Scalia says by July 31, much of the economy will be back open, and employers will be hiring.
Brancaccio: But many want the $600 a week extended, including Democrats?
Marshall-Genzer: Democrats say unemployment is still historically high. And they don’t want people to feel like they have to go back to jobs they feel are unsafe because of COVID-19. Democrats want to extend the extra $600 in unemployment benefits through January. Republicans say that with the extra money, some people are making more on unemployment than they would by working.
Brancaccio: Is there room for compromise here?
Marshall-Genzer: Possibly. Some Democrats say the extra $600 payments should be tied to the unemployment rate, so they’d only continue as long as unemployment remained high. And, Secretary Scalia mentioned the possibility of bonuses for people who return to work.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.
Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.
U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.
What do I need to know about tax season this year?
Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.
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