Shannon Meyer of Louisburg, Missouri, is about to lose the $363 weekly income the federal government has paid her since last year, when she stopped working as a home health aide. coronavirus Universal pandemic.
“I would go back to being very, very poor and not paying any money on anything except basic necessities,” Meyer said, recalling that after her job stopped but before her benefits began last year. how was it.
Missouri, Alaska, Iowa and Mississippi are the first states where federal unemployment benefits are closing early, with no further investigations after Saturday, June 12. Congress previously created additional benefits last year to help workers through the pandemic, but in recent weeks Republican governors in 25 states withdrew from agreements with the US Department of Labor.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) said when they announced the cut Last month that “many business owners and employers across our state are still struggling, not because of COVID-19, but because they can’t find people to fill jobs.”
Democrats intend to continue the gains until September, but President Joe Biden have given your blessings For states to forfeit money early – even though Democrats never expected states to forfeit money. Some labor law experts and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have said the law requires benefits to be paid, but the White House disagrees.
Republicans claim that the federal government made it impossible to hire businesses with an additional $300 added in weekly benefits, even though companies complain of a shortage of workers with no federal benefits in place. About half of Missouri businesses Survey conducted by the State Labor Department in 2019For example, he said he faced a shortage of qualified workers.
States aren’t just canceling the extra $300. They are also closing programs that cover gig workers, part-timers and the long-term unemployed, a group that is ineligible for regular state benefits, has strict earnings requirements and covers only a fraction of the workforce. do cover. (Four states are only canceling an additional $300 and keeping other programs.)
There isn’t much evidence that benefits were hurting hiring beyond genuine complaints from employers and reports of weaker jobs than the U.S. Department of Labor had expected. Job search activity on Indeed.com, a website where employers post open positions, actually declined in the four states that ended federal unemployment insurance benefits this week.
“It is unclear why search activity is below baseline in states where federal UI benefits are ending soon,” Indeed Hiring Lab economist Jed Kolko said. wrote in a blog post. “If overly generous federal UI benefits were deterring job seekers, we would expect an increase in search activity relative to the national trend in states where those benefits are ending soon.
According to an analysis by The Century Foundation, over 40 lakh workers will lose benefits prematurely in the next two months.
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Mayer, 57, said she worked as a home health aide for several years before the pandemic, earning Missouri’s minimum wage of just $9.45 an hour. She receives only $63 per week from the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, which provides workers with the continuation of what they receive in state benefits after using all available weeks.
In Meyer’s case, the additional $300 has been significant.
“With the extra money coming in, I could buy the things I needed,” she said, like materials to cool her home from the hardware store and a secondhand barbecue grill for $100.
She worked as a cook and waitress, but didn’t get a callback when she applied for those jobs, despite the hype about a “labor shortage” in the restaurant industry.
Recently, Meyer said, she’s been babysitting for her daughter, who has a job at a medical clinic, but can’t babysit for her baby. With her benefits exhausted, she said, her daughter would pay her $100 a week to help her.
Mayer doesn’t understand why governors would rescind federal benefits that don’t cost state money but give residents too much cash to spend in local economies. For example, Missouri would forfeit $770 million in federal income for 147,000 workers, According to The Century Foundation.
“They just took away everyone’s spending power,” she said. “It’s going to be a tough summer.”