The White House opens the door to extending boosted unemployment benefits with $600-a-week federal payouts ending in 12 days

July 14th 2020, 6:15:59 pm

The White House is signaling it could support a partial extension to the boosted unemployment benefits the federal government currently pays out to millions of laid-off workers, though at a lower amount.

  • The Washington Post reported that GOP lawmakers are weighing adding an additional $200 to $400 per week after the $600 boost expires at the end of July.
  • Republicans have fiercely opposed extending the $600 boosted unemployment payments first enacted in March.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories .

The White House is opening the door to a partial extension to the federal boost in unemployment benefits, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday. The $600 federal payout enacted in March expires in 12 days for scores of states.

The newspaper cited three congressional aides and lobbyists familiar with the internal debate. GOP lawmakers are weighing whether the boosted payments should be scaled back to an extra $200 and $400 per week.

The difference could be made up with a second stimulus check, The Post's sources said. It's a measure that congressional Republicans are also deciding whether to seek in the economic relief package set to be debated later this month. That could be targeted toward lower-income people.

Around 33 million people in the US are on unemployment insurance, according to the Labor Department. Many economists say the $600 federal supplement has provided a critical lifeline to people grappling with joblessness in a feeble economy, helping prompt quicker rebounds in consumer spending.


But Republicans are fiercely opposed to extending the benefit. They argue it disincentivizes people from returning to work as it allows a significant share of workers to earn more from the government instead.

A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicated that two-thirds of laid-off workers are able to draw more from unemployment than from wages at their jobs.

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said last month that the $600 benefit would be allowed to expire at the end of July. During a Fox Business interview on Monday, Kudlow said the Trump administration would push for "some unemployment reforms."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin echoed Kudlow. In a Thursday CNBC interview , he said the administration would attempt to ensure benefits total "no more" than 100% of a worker's wages.

The federal $600 boost has been added on top of a state's unemployment benefits, which usually replaces around half of a person's wages. Depending on its level, significant amounts of unemployed people could still receive more from the government than their past jobs.

An analysis released in May from the conservative-leaning American Action Forum indicated that a $400 boost would lead to 53% of workers earning incomes from the government that exceed those at their previous jobs. That figure would drop to 36% if the federal government sought to enact an extra $200 per week.

The coronavirus pandemic is still raging in the US, and states like California, Texas, and Florida are in the throes of a surge in cases. Around 30,000 new cases were recorded on Monday, The New York Times reported , and leaders of those three states suggested they may institute new lockdowns.

The economic environment remains very uncertain as a result. The US has regained around 7.3 million jobs since the outbreak of the pandemic, roughly a third of the amount shed since March.

But there were 3.9 unemployed people for each available job as of May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And many economists say there won't be enough jobs for the unemployed in the short-term.

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Joseph Zeballos-Roig


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