Almost 2 million Americans are set to lose their COVID-19 pandemic unemployment benefits, with Arizona, Georgia, and Ohio also announcing that they would stop providing enhanced federal unemployment payments. This announcement brings the total to 16 states that have said they will be terminating the $300 weekly federal boost to existing state benefits as well as the federal expansion of the unemployment benefits to people who did not previously qualify and those who had already run out of their state benefits.
Governors in these states have cited workforce shortages and improving the current economy as the two key reasons for the change. The payment, which was recently extended until early September, will come to an end as soon as June 12 in a few states.
“These changes have the potential to drastically scale back assistance to jobless workers far too early in the recovery,” said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation. He added, “Nationally, there are still 16.8 million workers on one of the unemployment programs, and the nation is still short of 8 million-plus jobs from the start of the pandemic.”
He mentioned that what was of particular concern is the nearly 1.4 million unemployed Americans who are at present in the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programs. The recipients of these programs will cease to receive payments once their respective states withdraw.
The programs were created by Congress in March last year to address the pandemic-fueled economic upheaval. People who are receiving regular state unemployment benefits, which typically last for up to 26 weeks, will continue to receive their payments, but will not receive the $300 per month federal supplement once the state they reside in withdraws.
It is expected that about 4.8 million individuals will be affected if all Republican governors pull out of the programs.