Some of the approximately 33 million workers now claiming unemployment benefits may receive an unwanted surprise next month. The additional $ 600 in weekly unemployment benefits due July 31 may end a week earlier in some states.
The reason comes down to a technicality: the schedule for paying unemployment benefits. The Coronavirus Economic Aid, Relief and Security Act, or the CARES Act, set July 31, a Friday, as the last day to pay the additional $ 600 in weekly pandemic relief benefits. But some states pay their unemployment benefits in the weeks that end on Saturdays or Sundays.
If that’s the case in the state you live in, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the last week to receive the extra benefit will be the week ending Saturday, July 25 or Sunday, July 26.
Among the states where unemployment benefits will end before July 31 are California and New York, and their labor departments will end their payment cycles on July 25 and 26, respectively. They also have more workers claiming unemployment than any other state, with more than 3 million in California and 1.8 million in New York, according to an analysis by the left-wing Institute for Economic Policy.
After that date, unemployment benefits will return to their pre-pandemic levels, which vary by state but are considerably less generous. For example, the regular unemployment benefit in California is $ 167 per week, while laid-off New Yorkers receive up to $ 504 per week, depending on their income while working.
Nationally, more than 1 in 5 workers is receiving or has recently applied for unemployment benefits, the EPI said in its analysis.
The additional $ 600 per week in fringe benefits is attributed to helping keep many households afloat during the coronavirus pandemic recession. While there have been calls to extend the benefit, it is unclear if that will occur after the July 31 limit.
The Heroes Act, passed by the House last month, would extend the benefit until early 2021, but some Republican lawmakers have voiced their opposition based on the belief that receiving an additional unemployment payment is a disincentive to returning to work in many states where wages are lower. of what the expanded unemployment benefit pays.
“These benefits are a critical lifeline that helps workers make ends meet while practicing the social distancing necessary to stop the spread of the coronavirus,” said EPI state economics analyst Julia Wolfe in a blog post last week. . “In fact, the $ 600 increase in weekly UI benefits was probably the most effective measure in the CARES Act to isolate workers from economic harm and fuel an eventual economic rebound, and should be extended last July.”
Losing the additional $ 600 earlier than expected can result in not only a financial shock for those households, but also for local economies. Without continued assistance, more Americans may find it difficult to pay their bills or rents, leading to evictions and loan defaults.
“With the expiration of expanded unemployment benefits in late July, the lack of additional tax support would severely restrict earnings and weigh even more heavily on the nascent recovery,” wrote Oxford Economics economist Lydia Boussour in a research note last week. pass.