How Are Americans Coping With $600 Week Unemployment Benefit Expiration?
The emergency coronavirus benefits provided to many Americans will come to a halt at the end of July. One of the relief measures came to an end on July 25 or 26 is the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), commonly known as the $600 weekly unemployment benefit announced under the CARES Act, depending on each state’s rules and regulations.
Traditionally, regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits provided by the state aim to recover an amount that is half of a worker’s wages on average. The average unemployment compensation paid out by the Labor departments of the states was $333 per week, where Oklahoma was provided as low as $101, and Massachusetts was provided $531. US workers’ median weekly wages as a whole population group were $1002 in the second quarter of this year.
To ensure that workers have enough to tide out the pandemic, they were eligible for an additional $600 every week. This additional amount is added to the regular Unemployment Insurance payment.
Importance Of $600 Weekly Unemployment Benefit
In these times of job losses, $600 of additional benefits help Americans survive on essential items and use the money to search for other forms of livelihood. Americans who fall under the low-income category especially tend to use such extra unemployment benefits to purchase essential commodities and stock goods like groceries, cleaning supplies, etc.
For most low-wage Americans, the $600 weekly relief measure has helped them immensely. Some were able to earn much more than their previous jobs paid. With the help of the unemployment pay and the one-time-stimulus check, many can afford medical assistance.
Many Americans also convert their mileage points and purchase commodities from online stores. To sustain themselves, some purchased used cars to look for alternative job opportunities from surrounding areas. Such people are very grateful that they can be financially stable and can give back to the community.
The continuation of FPUC benefits can be beneficial now. Curtailing the $600 weekly benefits in states with the lowest provision of unemployment benefits can have severe repercussions, as in the case of Mississippi. It has the lowest average weekly unemployment benefit when compared to the rest of the states. A Mississippian worker’s benefits will drop from about $812 per week to $212, a nearly 75% decline. The worker will have a hard time surviving during this pandemic crisis.
Besides helping individuals, the $600 weekly unemployment benefit could contribute to reviving the now ailing economy in the long run. According to economists, the $600 weekly unemployment relief will bring the US economy to stability. Wayne Vroman, an economist from Urban Institute, said that “It could go a long distance in stabilizing American household income and help to maintain purchasing power for the consumer sector of the economy.”
Michele Evermore said,” Americans might think that if they have a job, they won’t be affected when the $600 weekly benefit expires. But when 30 million won’t be having any access to the benefit, that is when the multiplier effect will be shown in the economy. “
For Those Who Go Back To Work, Are Their Earnings Enough?
Some people have managed to retain their jobs, but are working for lesser hours.
Their salary had been proportionately reduced for the reduced number of hours and simultaneously received a partial unemployment benefit of $130 every week. Such workers say that even with a job and partial unemployment benefits, they make far less money than when working full-time.
They also mention that without the $600 weekly benefit, they wouldn’t know what to do. Most laid-off workers try searching for other job opportunities, but the situation is unfortunate, with a scarcity of jobs everywhere.
Since low-wage workers have very little income, they are forced to reduce their spending, including housing. Most of them paid house rent but are anxious about their future once the moratoriums on evictions end of August.
Does Everyone Who Is Eligible Get Unemployment Aid?
Many people who are eligible for unemployment aid do not apply for it, and even if they apply, they do not receive the payments on time. According to The Century Foundation, only 33 million claims out of 18.8 million were paid by May.
Many Americans had tried for the FPUC in April, but they had still not received any benefit even three months later. They, along with their family members, were eligible to receive the benefits but have received no response from the concerned department.
Many initial hiccups were ironed out of the system, with the government hiring people to manage the additional load of new applicants and upgrading the technology. However, many people have remained outside the protection of the system, and appeals hearings are pending.
The $600 weekly unemployment benefit is crucial for most Americans, whether they have a job with reduced hours. With its expiry this July, most Americans would have a hard time surviving. Most Americans are very apprehensive about their future since many small businesses have not survived the pandemic.
On the other hand, some critics point out that the excess amount received from this relief measure will dissuade employees from returning to their jobs. The only solution to this is a complete economic recovery.
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