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Half of all states in America are ending their participation in federal unemployment benefits early, leaving millions of workers with greatly reduced benefits — or no benefits at all.
Twenty-three of these states are still below pre-pandemic employment, while 15 have lower than average vaccination rates. That means that workers being pushed back into the workplace — especially in the service industry — may find themselves exposed to more unvaccinated customers.
It also means that more workers in those states are still actively looking for, but not finding, work, indicating that those states may not actually be ready to pull the plug on increased benefits.
Even so, at least four million workers stand to see their benefits slashed or cut completely, according to an estimate from Andrew Stettner at the left-leaning Century Foundation. Overall, according to Stettner, 2.1 million workers on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) — both federal programs — will completely lose their benefits.
People receiving those include newly eligible gig workers, who have not traditionally been able to receive benefits, and those who have been unemployed long enough to exhaust regular state benefits.
Governors have cited higher unemployment benefits as a disincentive for workers returning, although the story may be more complex. Some workers are rethinking what they want out of work completely, while others have found their industries irrevocably altered by the pandemic’s economic devastation.
All of the states moving to end their unemployment benefits are led by GOP governors. An economic research team at JP Morgan said in a note that it “looks like politics, rather than economics, is driving early decisions to end these programs.”
But one reason that workers may not be returning is continued COVID safety concerns. People over 55 and those with young children have been …read more
Source:: Business Insider