Stimulus Package: Unemployed Americans May Get Only $5 A week Without A Deal

Recently, President Donald Trump called off negotiations for the fifth round of the Coronavirus stimulus package. This implies that millions of unemployed Americans looking for a boost in unemployment benefits are out of luck, at least for some time, and may have to depend on regular unemployment benefits from the federal or state government. In some states, it may be as little as $5 a week.

Why Isn’t The Federal Government Giving A New Stimulus Bill?

After weeks of failed discussion on the new stimulus package between the Congress and the White House, President Donald Trump put an end to negotiations until after the election.

On October 6, President Trump tweeted, “I am rejecting their request, and looking to the future of our Country. I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business.” 

Effects Of Delay In The New Stimulus Package 

According to the U.S. Department Of Labor (DOL) reports, there is a surge in new unemployment claims filed across the United States, and more than 26 million Americans are presently collecting unemployment benefits.

A delay in the new stimulus package (or enhanced unemployment benefits), like as mentioned earlier, will force the unemployed Americans to solely rely on their traditional or regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, provided by the federal or state government and settle down with just $5 a week. 

Also, the delay will kill the hopes of those looking for extending enhanced unemployment benefits. The situation would be similar to that when the $600 weekly benefit provided under the CARES Act ended in July and also the expiration of the subsequent $300 to $400 weekly benefit announced through an executive order in August. 

How Much Benefits Do States Provide Under The Regular Unemployment Program?

According to the Department Of Labor’s August reports, the states pay $1,220.36 unemployment benefits per month or $305.09 per week. Note that this is not the precise number but only the average.

It is important to understand that the amount of benefits paid per week varies from one state to another as they have to balance the checkbook. Below, let’s see which states pay more weekly benefits and which pay less.

States That Pay the Highest Weekly Unemployment Insurance Benefits

According to the reports of the Labor Department, the following states pay the highest unemployment benefits. 

  • Massachusetts pays up to $1,234 a week
  • Minnesota pays up to $740 a week
  • Washington pays up to $790 a week

Note – The higher weekly payments result from having dependents.

Most states pay a maximum of $400 or more weekly benefits. The maximum unemployment benefit across the U.S. is about $2,104 per month or $526 weekly on average.

States That Pay the Lowest Weekly Unemployment Insurance Benefits

The following states pay the lowest minimum unemployment benefits. 

  • Hawaii pays as low as $5 a week
  • North Carolina pays as little as $15 a week
  • Louisiana as low as $10 a week

Many states pay benefits less than $100 (minimum) per week. The average minimum benefit across the U.S. is $244 per month or $61 weekly.

Are States Paying Benefits Equal To the Federal Minimum Wage?

It is estimated that most states pay less unemployment benefits a week than one could earn by working for approximately 40 hours at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “A parent working full time while earning the minimum wage today earns too little to bring his family, even if it is just a family of two above the federal poverty line.”

Standalone Bill: An Alternative Relief Measure

Even though President Donald Trump called off negotiations for a comprehensive stimulus deal, he has indicated that he is willing to send another round of $1,200 stimulus checks and approving funding for airlines and small businesses. 

$1,200 Stimulus Checks 

President Donald Trump announced he would sign a bill authorizing another $1,200 stimulus check at the earliest. The checks are believed to help thousands of unemployed Americans, however, a shift in eligibility criteria would impact the individual’s final payment. 

The second stimulus check is expected to give $1,200 to the eligible adults, and qualifying child dependents are expected to get $1,000. Older adults, including retirees over age 65 are also likely to be eligible for a second stimulus check. Many factors would contribute to the chances of receiving the second check for retired and older adults. Some of the factors include the AGI, tax filings, pension, whether the IRS considers them a dependent person, and the SSDI program (only if they are a part of it). 

Airline Assistance

The airlines are one of the sectors worst hit by the Coronavirus-induced economic shutdown. Ever since the pandemic began, the sector has furloughed thousands of employees and is expecting assistance to survive through the crisis. Having understood the situation, the negotiators have tagged airline assistance for standalone legislation. 

On October 8, Pelosi stated, “Let me just be really clear. I have been very open to having a standalone bill for the airlines.” 

Earlier, the House had passed a $28.8 billion airline support bill that acted as the starting point for legislation. 

Paycheck Protection Program

The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) was a part of the CARES Act announced in March 2020. PPP aimed at providing forgivable loans guaranteed by the federal to the small businesses to cover their payroll and other costs. President Trump stated that he would “sign now” a bill that authorizes extra funding to protect small-business payrolls.

Closing Thoughts 

The $1,200 stimulus check is intended to help unemployed Americans to get through pandemic-related expenses and boost the U.S. economy. However, it is still unclear whether the qualified can expect to receive the checks any time soon. 


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