President Joe Biden’s administration will not request for an extension of the weekly $300 extra jobless benefits. This means that the pandemic-inspired additional income will expire on September 6. States can continue the program but they will have to use their share of COVID-19 rescue funds.
Jobless Benefits WIll Expire on September 6
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh co-wrote a letter addressed to lawmakers earlier this Thursday. “The temporary $300 boost in benefits will expire on September 6th, as planned,” they wrote. “As President Biden has said, the boost was always intended to be temporary and it is appropriate for that benefit boost to expire,” the letter added.
The enhanced jobless benefits originated to help Americans who lost jobs because of the pandemic. They were part of the federal CARES Act under former President Donald Trump last year. The boost started at $600 a week to those collecting unemployment.
In the course of extending the program, the rates had to be cut in half when Republicans balked at the price tag. Congress extended the jobless benefits twice, and its last renewal will end on September 6.
Unemployment Rates Already Dropping
US unemployment dropped sharply to 5.4% last July. This is around half of the rate back in July 2020. As many Americans went back to work, several Republican-led states suspended the jobless benefits. Many blamed it as a cause for many workers to stay at home and not actively look for a job.
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Prior to the announcement, some moderate Senate Democrats already said they won’t vote in favor of extensions. As a result, letters sent to powerful Senate committee included Biden’s commitment to not seek renewal.
These were sent to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) of the Senate Finance Committee and Representative Richard Neal, (D-MA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “We still have more work to do, but the trend is clear,” both Yellen and Walsh wrote. “Our nation is getting back to work.”
Rise Of Delta Variant May Pose Challenges
Even as the US continues its recovery, Yellen and Walsh agreed that states with high unemployment may opt to continue with the jobless benefits. A continued rise of COVID_19 cases due to the Delta variant “may also pose short-term challenges to local economies and labor markets.”
To those states with continued high unemployment, the administration reminded them to use the budget already given to them. In particular, states can access their share of a $350 billion direct aid program from the American Rescue Plan.
“Where a more gradual wind-down of income support for unemployed workers makes sense based on local economic conditions, American Rescue Plan funds can be activated to cover the cost of providing assistance to unemployed workers beyond September 6th,” Yellen and Walsh added.
In contrast to letting the jobless benefits expire, Biden’s administration actively prevented the rent moratorium from expiring. The ban for landlords to evict renters due to nonpayment of rent during the pandemic ended August 1.
The administration, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, managed to extend the ban until October 31.
Federal Government To Remain On Standby
In addition, the Labor Department will remain on standby to help states that want to use unspent rescue funds to continue enhanced benefits. Meanwhile, the Treasury Department will issue a new and additional $47 million in new CAREER grants.
The fund can help Americans rejoin the workforce. Also, Biden called on Congress to look into revamping the longer-term universal insurance (UI) reform as part of the $3.5 trillion budget plan.
Watch the Inside News video report that States can pay unemployment benefits past Sept 6 using pandemic funds:
Do you agree with the decision to not extend the $300 extra jobless benefits once it expires on September 6? Are jobs easier to come by now? Do you feel that the US is more or less on the way back to full recovery?
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