COVID & Unemployment

More Republican-led states opting out of federal unemployment payments

Samantha Fields May 14, 2021
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Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
COVID & Unemployment

More Republican-led states opting out of federal unemployment payments

Samantha Fields May 14, 2021
Heard on:
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Ohio, Georgia, Arizona and more than a dozen other states have announced they’re pulling out of pandemic-related federal unemployment programs

That means that in June or early July, people getting unemployment checks in those states will no longer receive the extra $300 a week in supplemental benefits paid by the federal government. People who are gig workers or self-employed, and anyone who’s on extended unemployment, will also lose federal benefits.

So far, all of the states dropping the enhanced benefits are led by Republican governors who say the federal unemployment programs, created to help people survive the pandemic, are too generous and dissuading people from going back to work.

Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said that while that is probably true of some people, “that’s not a big factor in the economy. We’ve looked at the evidence on that, and it just doesn’t hold up.”

The U.S. economy is still down more than 8 million jobs and, “for many people, those jobs aren’t there,” Baker said. “They’re dependent on the benefits.”

There are also still a lot of parents — mothers and mothers of color, in particular — who are not in a position to go back to work yet because their kids’ schools are still closed, said Rebecca Dixon, executive director at the National Employment Law Project.

“Labor force participation actually rose pretty rapidly in April, but the gains were all among men. We know that women shoulder the majority of the care burden in this country, and they actually lost ground in April,” Dixon said. “So we have these states actually micro-targeting these workers who can’t return to work because of caregiving.”

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