At least 11 states ending federal unemployment benefits early

Brad Little (right), Governor of Idaho, and former Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on July 16, 2020.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

At least 11 federal states waived federal unemployment programs prematurely for months. However, some workers may be able to keep the extended benefits.

The steps taken by officials in Republican-led states would stop services as early as June 12.

The allowance is an additional $ 300 per week on top of typical government benefits. Long-term unemployed as well as self-employed and gig workers would immediately lose their entitlement to benefits.

The American Rescue Plan offered these funds through September 6th.

“That really speeds it up [benefits] Klippe, “said Nicole Marquez, director of social security for the National Employment Law Project.” We are concerned that states are taking these measures abruptly and prematurely. “

Domino effect

Greg Gianforte, governor of Montana, started the domino effect on May 4th.

Since then, at least 10 others have announced that they will be pulling out of the federal unemployment programs that have existed since March 2020.

These include Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wyoming. More could follow soon.

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Officials attributed the decisions to labor shortages in their respective states. They claim that improved benefits keep people from returning to work and make it harder for companies to hire for open jobs.

“My decision is based on a conservative rationale – we don’t want people with unemployment,” said Brad Little, governor of Idaho, on Tuesday. “We want people to work.

“A strong economy cannot exist without workers returning to jobs.”

However, critics say that unemployment benefits do not play a major role when there is a labor shortage.

Instead, pandemic factors like irregular school openings, childcare obligations, an ongoing viral threat, and previously relatively low vaccinations among working-age Americans have pulled people off the rails, they said.

Pandemic unemployment assistance

Some experts believe the U.S. Department of Labor may be able to prevent loss of benefits for the self-employed, gig workers, and others receiving help from the federal pandemic unemployment assistance program.

The US Department of Labor has legal authority to keep this aid going based on specific wording in the CARES Act that established the program. This emerges from a letter from the National Employment Law Project sent to Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh on Tuesday.

However, the same doesn’t apply to other federal programs, including a program that offers an additional $ 300 per week, the letter said.

“Our position is that the Department of Labor has that authority and that they should use their authority to ensure that PUA extends its full spectrum,” Marquez said. “We would argue that given this authority, DOL must take these measures.”

According to the letter, there are two options: U.S. labor officials could ask states that have chosen not to pay PUA benefits, or other states could choose to take over management of the lost PUA benefits.

There are some hurdles to both approaches, including potential lawsuits from states opting out of federal aid, Marquez admitted.

An official from the Department of Labor acknowledged receipt of the letter but declined to comment.

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