10 states to end enhanced unemployment benefits June 26

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CBS News 25 June, 2021 - 06:38am 35 views

Which states are ending unemployment benefits?

Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Utah will all be ending the $300 federal supplemental benefits in their states, joining 12 other states that previously opted out of the benefits in the past two weeks, as the U.S. emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. CBS News10 states to end enhanced unemployment benefits June 26

Ten states will exit the enhanced unemployment benefits at the end of the week — impacting roughly 2.5 million workers. Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Utah will all be ending the $300 federal supplemental benefits in their states, joining 12 other states that previously opted out of the benefits in the past two weeks, as the U.S. emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

In total, 26 states are ending the enhanced federal benefits before they're set to expire in September. All of the states but one are run by Republican governors who began announcing the termination of benefits last month, claiming the increased unemployment benefits were causing workforce shortages by discouraging people from returning to work, even as pandemic-related restrictions eased.

In all but two of the states exiting the enhanced benefits June 26, Florida and Ohio, federal unemployment programs for gig and self-employed workers, as well as those unemployed long-term, will also end. Because of that, more than 1.1 million unemployed workers will see all unemployment benefits end, including more than 700,000 people in Texas alone. 

Although Georgia does not report the number of people in its Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program for long-term unemployed workers to the Labor Department, The Century Foundation estimates more than 117,000 Georgians will see benefits disappear altogether.

Florida is the only other state that does not report the number of people receiving benefits from the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program to the Labor Department, but it will not end all federal programs until they expire in September. The Century Foundation estimates 417,000 Floridians will be impacted as the state ends the $300 supplemental benefits early.

There has been fierce debate over how the enhanced benefits have affected the labor market. Republican lawmakers and some business groups claim they're serving as a disincentive to work — but economists and federal officials have noted other influences are at play in keeping people from returning to jobs.

Testifying this week on Capitol Hill, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said a number of factors affected the labor supply, including ongoing health concerns due to the pandemic, and parents still dealing with child care challenges. He also noted the shift as people move to new job opportunities rather than returning to pre-pandemic ones. 

Powell also said the enhanced benefits may be a factor, suggesting it was allowing people to continue their job searches longer. He pointed out the impact of enhanced benefits on the labor force may become clearer in the near future as they expire. States not ending the enhanced benefits early will see them expire September 6.

At the same time, as some states opt-out of enhanced benefits early, job search activity is up in some but down in others according to a recent analysis by Indeed Hiring Lab. In the 12 states that ended the increased benefits June 12 and June 19, the job search activity is below the national trend. 

Meanwhile, 411,000 people filed for unemployment claims across the country last week for the first time, down only 7,000 from the week before. More than 104,000 filed for the federal program for gig and self-employed workers. While the declines in initial claims have leveled off, continuing claims remained below 400,000, the lowest they've been since the pandemic began last year.

CBS News reporter covering economic policy.

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Lawsuit challenges Gov. Hogan’s decision to end federal unemployment benefits

Baltimore Sun 25 June, 2021 - 01:11am

The Unemployed Workers Union, an advocacy group organized by the People’s Power Assembly to help people obtain benefits, announced a lawsuit Thursday challenging Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to end several pandemic unemployment programs early. The class-action lawsuit in Baltimore Circuit Court also seeks benefits for people whose cases have been pending in the state’s claims system.

The lawsuit questions whether Hogan has the authority to end the federal benefits and says the labor department has failed to fulfill legal obligations to unemployment claimants. It names Hogan and Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson as defendants.

The plaintiffs are six Maryland residents who have filed for unemployment.

They want a judge to issue an injunction to stop Hogan from ending the federal benefits. They also want the court to declare that the unemployment claimants have a right to withheld benefits, speedy adjudication of claims and adequate communication from the state labor department.

Many claimants have been disqualified from benefits “without explanation or hearing” or “were placed in an ‘on-hold’ status for months at a time or indefinitely,” the lawsuit claims.

People have had their cars repossessed and can’t feed their children while waiting for benefits, said attorney Alec Summerfield, who is representing the workers.

“The stories we have heard from people who have not received a dime — a dime — over the past year are beyond harrowing,” Summerfield said at a press conference in Baltimore before heading into the courthouse to file the lawsuit. “People who worked for decades now cannot afford to put food on the table. This is a disgrace.”

Summerfield said he’s seeking a hearing on the motion for an injunction by early next week.

Hogan announced this month that on July 3, Maryland would stop participating in the federal programs. They include programs that provide $300 extra weekly payments, cover gig workers and the self-employed, and provide extra weeks of benefits.

The move to cut that aid adds “insult to injury” when many in Maryland still are waiting for benefits, said Sharon Black, a representative of the Unemployed Workers Union.

About two dozen other Republican-led states also decided to end participation in the federal unemployment programs, which Congress had authorized until September.

Democratic leaders in the Maryland General Assembly said after Hogan’s decision that they were investigating whether they could stop the governor from ending the benefits, but they have not yet taken action to reverse his move.

Hogan cited increasing vaccination rates, job growth and complaints from businesses that they are facing worker shortages in announcing the move.

Asked for comment about the lawsuit, Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci said in a statement Thursday that economic conditions “warrant opting out” of the federal programs, citing growth in jobs and wages.

Ricci also pointed to comments from President Joe Biden’s administration.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing earlier this month that governors have “every right” to “pull back” on the benefits early, though the Biden administration believes states should stay in because the programs are helpful to out-of-work Americans.

A spokeswoman for Maryland’s labor department did not respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.

Ricci said the state “continues to successfully process more than 97% of claims even while facing an onslaught of fraudulent claims each week.”

The labor department has been emphasizing fraud in the system recently, issuing a press release Monday saying that it has detected more than 508,000 “potentially fraudulent claims” since the beginning of May.

At a briefing Wednesday, some members of the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Unemployment Insurance Oversight questioned state labor officials about the allegations of fraud.

Del. C.T. Wilson, a Charles County Democrat, said he is hearing from many people whose unemployment accounts are being flagged and then can’t get benefits — or answers to their questions — for weeks or months.

In an affidavit accompanying the lawsuit filed Thursday, one of the plaintiffs, Leonard Harp of Baltimore, described how his account was flagged after he was laid off from his job hanging drywall. In September, the state approved his application for benefits.

But when Harp logged on to the state’s online claims portal, called BEACON, he “was informed that my identity could not be confirmed, and thus my application was suspected of fraud.” He uploaded numerous official documents to confirm his identity, but still was denied, he said.

“Each week, my wife and I request review of my applications and each week we are told that a review is underway,” Harp said in the affidavit. “This has been going on since September. I have confirmed my identity in every way I know how.”

Maryland is not the only state to face a lawsuit over the federal employment benefits. Indiana Legal Services sued Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb this month over his decision to end the benefits there. The case has not yet been decided.

Downward U.S. Jobless Claims Trend Stalls Out

The Wall Street Journal 25 June, 2021 - 01:11am

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial unemployment claims, a proxy for layoffs, moved slightly lower last week to a seasonally adjusted 411,000 from an upwardly revised 418,000 the prior week, when claims rose. The four-week average for claims, which smooths out volatility in the weekly figures, rose slightly off a pandemic low to 397,750.

While last week’s initial claims were higher than projected and claims overall remain above pre-pandemic levels, their downward trajectory, along with a pickup in hiring, a declining unemployment rate and optimistic consumer sentiment, points to gains for the U.S. labor market.

Claims are down sharply from the depths of the Covid-19-induced downturn during 2020, and are hovering at levels half of what they were in January this year. Weekly claims totals are down more than 40% from the 742,000 total posted the week ended April 3.

“The overall trend is in the right direction,” said Jordan van Rijn, senior economist at the Credit Union National Association. “Right now, there’s a lot of demand for labor out there and it’s the workers that are a little more in the driver’s seat,” he added.

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U.S. jobless claims dropping faster in states ending federal benefit

Yahoo Finance 25 June, 2021 - 01:11am

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ongoing claims for U.S. unemployment insurance have dipped faster in recent weeks in states ending federal benefits this summer than in states keeping the $300 weekly supplement in place until the fall, according to government data through last week.

From the week ending May 1 through the week ending June 12, continuing claims for state unemployment benefits fell 17.8% in the 26 states ending benefits early, to 990,000, and by 12.6%, to 2.18 million, in the rest of the country, according to a Reuters analysis of weekly federal unemployment data.

The data do not yet answer the larger and arguably more important question of whether hiring will also accelerate in those states, the outcome an almost all-Republican group of governors says is the goal of cutting the benefits early.

Weekly data from small business time provider Homebase through the week ending June 20 in fact has shown no pickup in hiring in the states cancelling unemployment benefits. To the contrary the other states appear to have added jobs faster in recent weeks - a possible consequence of the fact that large Democratic-led states like California and New York have recently lifted most of the remaining restrictions put in place to fight the pandemic.

The states stopping benefits as a group have also pulled closer to their pre-pandemic levels of unemployment, suggesting less room for improvement.

(Graphic: Unemployment benefits and hiring, https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-ECONOMY/JOBS/xklpyxkeevg/chart.png)

The issue of how unemployment benefits are impacting the recovery of the U.S. job market has become a core concern among Federal Reserve and other policymakers as they try to determine how fast national employment might rebound to pre-pandemic levels, a judgment hard to make until the economy is fully reopened and benefit levels returned to normal.

Twelve states have already halted benefits in what has been a largely partisan split between Republican governors arguing that the pandemic emergency unemployment payments are now discouraging people from working, and Democratic governors who feel people still need support as the pandemic wanes.

(Graphic: A (mostly) red state roll off, https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-ECONOMY/EMPLOYMENT/oakpedgnkvr/chart.png)

The states stopping benefits early include the entire Deep South, where pandemic unemployment has fallen hard on the large Black population, but only one state, Louisiana, with a Democratic governor. Only two Republican-led states, Vermont and Massachusetts in the Northeast, plan to continue the payments until they end nationwide in September.

The data overall suggest "more downward momentum in initial and continuing claims over the next few weeks," said Jefferies economist Thomas Simons. Sky-high unemployment claims have been a hallmark of the pandemic, topping 23 million at one point in the spring of 2020 as the coronavirus took hold, more than 10 times the level at the start of the year.

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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TN Jobless claims

WATE 6 On Your Side 25 June, 2021 - 01:11am

US jobless claims tick down to 411,000 as economy recovers

Daily Mail 25 June, 2021 - 01:11am

By Keith Griffith For Dailymail.com and Wires

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week, a sign that layoffs declined and the job market is slowly improving.

The Labor Department said Thursday that jobless claims declined just 7,000 from the previous week to 411,000 for the week ending June 19, with 3.4 million Americans collecting continuing benefits. 

The number of weekly applications for unemployment aid has fallen steadily this year from about 900,000 in January, but remains well above the pre-pandemic average of around 200,000.

There are a record 9.8 million job openings across the country, but desperate employers are struggling to to attract workers.

Jobless claims declined just 7,000 to 411,000 for the week ending June 19

Claims remain above historic averages, but well below last year's record rates

Generous government-funded unemployment benefits, including a $300 weekly federal bonus, have been blamed, as well as a hesitancy to return to work out of fear of contracting the virus. 

A shortage of childcare facilities is also keeping some parents, mostly women, outside the labor force. Pandemic-related retirements and transitions into new careers are also factors. 

Four states, including Iowa and Alaska, either terminated all federal government-funded benefits or just the $300 supplement on June 12. 

They were joined last Saturday by eight other states, including Alabama and West Virginia.

Thirteen other states with Republican governors, including Texas and Florida, will end these benefits for residents between June 26 and July 10. 

Louisiana is ending the weekly supplementary check on July 31, the only state with a Democratic governor to terminate federal benefits. For the rest of the country, the federal benefits will lapse on September 6.

Republican governors from 24 states are ending $300 per week unemployment benefits from President Joe Biden in an effort to encourage citizens to return to the workforce

Economists at Bank of America have estimated that those who earned less than $32,000 a year at their previous jobs can receive more in jobless aid with the extra $300. 

At the same time, the federal expansions of unemployment benefits have made it possible for millions of self-employed and contract workers who were previously not eligible for help to receive aid for the first time. 

The end of benefits in the 12 states has not led to a surge in job searches, according to data from Indeed Hiring Lab.

'The share of national job search activity in these states, measured by clicks on job postings, is below the late April baseline,' said Jed Kolko, chief economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab. 

'If overly generous federal unemployment insurance benefits were holding back job seekers, then we would expect search activity to increase, relative to the national trend, in states where those benefits have ended.'

A JPMorgan analysis of other job data that combines mobility, small business revenues and consumer card spending also reached similar conclusions.

A We're Hiring sign at a Publix supermarket in Richmond, Virginia earlier this month. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits declined last week

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers on Tuesday that he believed the economy would see strong job creation in the fall. 

In addition to the brightening public health situation, trillions of dollars in pandemic relief from the government are also underpinning the economy. 

As the pandemic fades, states and cities are lifting more business restrictions - California just fully reopened June 15 - and the economy is picking up as consumers are traveling, eating out more, and visiting movie theaters and amusement parks. 

A separate report from the Commerce Department on Thursday confirmed economic growth accelerated in the first quarter, thanks to the massive fiscal stimulus.

Gross domestic product increased at a 6.4 percent annualized rate last quarter, the government said in its third estimate of growth for the first three months of the year. That was unrevised from the estimate published last month. The economy grew at a 4.3 percent rate in the fourth quarter.

Growth could top 10 percent at an annual rate in the April-June quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

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Will unemployment benefits be extended after May unemployment rates?

AS English 24 June, 2021 - 05:56pm

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May jobs report showed what in normal times would be solid growth with nearly 560,000 new jobs added. However, the numbers missed the expected target and the US economy is still short around 10 million jobs from the pre-pandemic trend in growth. This soothed fears that the economy was growing too fast but means that the jobs gap won’t be closed until August 2023 at the current pace of job creation. Enhanced federal unemployment benefits are set to expire the first week of September 2021 in the 24 states and the District of Columbia that have not yet opted out early.

There has been a breakthrough in negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on investing in US infrastructure, but the proposal does not include extending unemployment benefits. Getting an investment package on infrastructure has been the main area of focus for the Biden administration since the American Rescue Plan was passed in March. President Biden wants to have a spending packaged enacted before Congress leaves Washington for the August recess.

The $1.2 trillion bipartisan deal still has to work its way through both chambers but President Biden has given it his blessing. The package hammered out by a bipartisan group of 21 Senators dubbed the “G21”, leaves out many of the provisions of the President’s nearly $2.3 trillion original American Jobs Plan, which didn't include extending unemployment insurance either. President Biden has said that he will pursue measures that were left out in stand-alone legislation that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said they will try to pass in July as well.

Even if by some chance a measure to extend unemployment benefits were part of a separate bill, states could opt out like the 26 that already have. However, congressional Democrats have signaled that they will most likely let the enhanced benefits expire and focus on making changes to the national unemployment insurance system.

Senators Ron Wyden and Michael Bennet have proposed a revamp of the unemployment system nationwide. Their proposal would modernize the benefits allowing those laid off to access jobless assistance more quickly doing away with the “waiting week,” along with other measures to standardize the patchwork of unemployment insurance systems from state to state.

The extended benefits program would be tied to "economic conditions on the ground,” so that jobless compensation programs like those set up during the covid-19 pandemic would kick in automatically. The Senators don’t specify which economic indicators but the triggers could be unemployment surpassing a certain level, then winding down once again when employment recovers.

This crisis has made it clear that our unemployment system is inadequate & unreliable for workers when they lose a job.@RonWyden & I have a proposal to strengthen & expand benefits while also tying them to economic conditions to prepare us for the future.https://t.co/OG86kxNtRm

“We can’t fail again to fix [our unemployment insurance system] in the wake of the second major economic crisis in 10 years,” said Wyden. “A 21st century economy demands a 21st century safety net that supports workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.”

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U.S. Jobless Claims Tick Down To 411,000 As Economy Heals

HuffPost 24 June, 2021 - 08:06am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week, a sign that layoffs declined and the job market is improving.

The Labor Department said Thursday that jobless claims declined just 7,000 from the previous week to 411,000. The number of weekly applications for unemployment aid has fallen steadily this year from about 900,000 in January. The level of unemployment claims generally reflects the pace of layoffs.

As the pandemic fades, states and cities are lifting more business restrictions — California just fully reopened June 15 — and the economy is picking up as consumers are traveling, eating out more, and visiting movie theaters and amusement parks. Growth could top 10% at an annual rate in the April-June quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

With many employers desperate to hire, some states are starting to cut off several pandemic-related unemployment aid programs in response to business complaints that the assistance is making it harder for them to find workers. Starting this month, 26 states will end an extra $300 weekly federal unemployment payment and 22 of those states will also cut off all jobless assistance to self-employed, gig workers, and those out of work more than six months. The extra $300 ends nationwide Sept. 6.

Economists at Bank of America have estimated that those who earned less than $32,000 a year at their previous jobs can receive more in jobless aid with the extra $300. At the same time, the federal expansions of unemployment benefits have made it possible for millions of self-employed and contract workers who were previously not eligible for help to receive aid for the first time.

Four states — Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, and Missouri — stopped providing the $300 payment last week. All but Alaska also cut off the two programs that covered the self-employed and the long-term jobless.

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