After July 31, millions of out-of-work Americans will likely lose an additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits that have helped them weather the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers are negotiating a new relief package, but the chances the additional lifeline will be extended are slim. Depending on income and where someone lives, regular unemployment benefits replace only a portion of lost wages. The lower-income workers who were benefiting the most from the $600 lifeline will feel its loss most acutely.
Unemployment benefits are typically meant to keep people afloat while staying low enough to spur them to find a job. But as the economy hurtled into a recession early this year, and the pandemic has kept many businesses closed or at limited capacity, jobs have disappeared for many.
The extra unemployment benefits passed by Congress this year have injected billions into the economy, and if those benefits shrink, that missing boost could cause widespread damage.
The idea of basing benefits on workers’ previous wages, which is central to the Republican plan, isn’t new. It’s a factor in how states determine the benefits they give out, which is one reason benefits may vary depending on the location.
Here’s how unemployment benefits will shift in every state when the $600 expires, ordered from the lowest to the highest level of benefits for someone who makes $35,000 a year:
70% of income