Unemployment 2020

$600 weekly benefit did not reduce employment, study finds

Andy Uhler Jul 31, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Some Senate Republicans have argued that the $600 benefit is too much, discouraging people from returning to work. Above, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor on Thursday. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Unemployment 2020

$600 weekly benefit did not reduce employment, study finds

Andy Uhler Jul 31, 2020
Some Senate Republicans have argued that the $600 benefit is too much, discouraging people from returning to work. Above, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor on Thursday. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
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A study by Yale economists finds that expanded jobless benefits that Congress put in place back in March in response to COVID-19 did not reduce employment. This comes as Congress is debating the right level of relief for unemployed Americans as the $600 weekly supplement comes to an end.

Six months ago, Duke Ducheneaux had plenty of work as a live music audio engineer. He lives in Denver but spent a lot of time touring the country with bands, until all that stopped in March.

“I hate sitting here and doing nothing,” he said. “All I want to do is work.”

He’s on unemployment and said this is the last week he expects to get that $600 that’s part of the CARES Act. He said all told, that’s about half what he would normally be making.  

Some Senate Republicans and the White House have argued that the $600 benefit is too much and that it discourages people from coming back to work. Dana Scott, the lead author on the Yale study, said the research tells a different story.

“There are a lot of reasons that people are not going back to work that are more important in determining overall employment levels than these disincentive effects,” Scott said.

Those reasons include child care and the risk of getting COVID-19. She said another issue is the labor market: If there aren’t enough jobs to be had, people can’t go back to work.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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