Report: Extra $600 Unemployment Benefits Will Not Be Extended Past July, Trump Admin Pitches Alternative

OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

The additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of the month and it does not seem Congress and the Trump administration are on the same page about extending it.

House Democrats have proposed extending the benefits to the end of the year as the coronavirus global pandemic is seeing increases in the number of tests, cases, and deaths in most states.

Republicans and the White House, who are more optimistic about reopening the economy, want to change the benefits rather than just extend them.

Senate Republicans are deferring to the White House, showing an unwillingness to work on an effort President Trump could ultimately refuse to sign. So, they are waiting on Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to work out a plan.

CNBC reports the Trump administration has pitched several options to extend the benefits but has yet to lay out a coordinated plan:

In the next stimulus package, the Trump administration wants to cap the benefits so that workers don’t receive more in unemployment than they did at their jobs, Mnuchin said Thursday on CNBC. With the extra $600 per week, an estimated two-thirds of displaced workers are eligible for benefits in excess of their normal wages, according to a recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Mnuchin said regardless of the change, unemployed people can expect a drop in the monthly provision: “You can assume that it will be no more than 100% [of a worker’s usual pay].”

From the report:

Critics of the enhanced unemployment benefit say it disincentives people from going back to work. But others say it’s necessary when around 33 million Americans were still receiving jobless benefits at the end of June and states are re-closing parts of their economies as coronavirus cases spike across the country.

Recent research from the Chicago Federal Reserve found that people receiving unemployment benefits are actually more likely to look for jobs than those who have exhausted their benefits. And some economists say that continuing enhanced unemployment benefits — along with providing more food assistance — is one of the most critical things lawmakers can do right now to stabilize the U.S. economy.

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CNBC also reports the additional unemployment benefits from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package have helped keep 10 million Americans above the poverty level:

With the aid of these policies, the annual poverty rate is projected to be 9.2%, with 29.3 million Americans living in poverty in 2020, according to the Urban Institute report. The Census Bureau defines the poverty threshold as roughly $13,000 for a single individual and $26,000 for a family of four with two adults and two children.

Without current pandemic response measures, however, the poverty rate would have been 12.4%, impacting 39.5 million people.