7.5 Million Americans Lose Jobless Benefits on Labor Day

Neither Democratic lawmakers nor Biden did anything to prolong the benefits, despite the threat posed by the Delta variant and the end of an eviction moratorium.

(Food Bank of the Hudson Valley)

With the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday overturning President Joe Biden’s moratorium on evictions to help Americans during the job-destroying pandemic, U.S. workers now face eviction as emergency unemployment assistance ended, cruelly, on Labor Day in the United States.

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

Unless Congress and the Biden administration act quickly, more than 7 million people across the United States will soon completely lose unemployment benefits that were approved as part of the federal government’s emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic — which is nowhere near over.

An analysis released by the Century Foundation estimates that 7.5 million people are set to entirely lose unemployment insurance (UI) aid on Labor Day, Sept. 6, the official nationwide expiration date of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

“UI benefits expiring on Labor Day is a cruel joke that only wealthy politicians could come up with,” said Mark Paul, an assistant professor of economics and environmental studies at the New College of Florida.

The Century Foundation’s Andrew Stettner described the looming UI expiration as “the largest cutoff of unemployment benefits in history, many times larger than previous cutoffs of 1.3 million workers in 2013 and 800,000 in 2003.”

In addition to the 7.5 million people who will see their jobless aid end entirely, another 3 million unemployed workers will lose the $300-per-week federal boost provided through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. Twenty-six states — all of which are led by Republicans except Louisiana — ended federal pandemic benefits early, heightening the economic desperation of millions of people.

“What we are doing to the unemployed is inexcusably cruel,” economic policy expert Claudia Sahm tweeted in response to the Century Foundation’s report. “Think of the millions of people who didn’t get jobs last month and won’t have them soon.”

Stettner concluded that “while the United States has spent record sums on unemployment benefits, the job is not done.”

“Millions of workers remain out of work, and despite progress, the labor market is nowhere near its pre-Covid-19 levels,” he wrote. “Cutting off benefits by Labor Day will leave 7.5 million workers without critical assistance they need to keep themselves financially stable until they can find a new job. Imposing such deep hardship on families and the economy, is an unforced economic policy error that can and should be avoided.”

Little Indication of Prolonging Benefits

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to deliver remarks on bipartisan infrastructure framework on June 29 at La Crosse Municipal Transit Utility in La Crosse, Wisconsin. (White House, Adam Schultz)

Though Congress has extended the emergency federal UI programs several times during the pandemic — most recently in March, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan — there is little indication that Democratic lawmakers or President Joe Biden intend to do anything to prolong the benefits once more, despite the threat posed by the Delta variant.

The Washington Post reported this month that “White House officials believe there is no political will on Capitol Hill for extending” the federal unemployment benefits. Thus far, there has not been any public talk among congressional Democrats about including a UI extension in their forthcoming reconciliation package.

Asked during a briefing whether the administration plans to push for an extension, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that “there has not been a change at this point in time.”

“Obviously, we’re quite focused and we designed the American Rescue Plan with the goal of being able to plan for contingencies, including rises in moments of the virus, economic needs, different communities recovering at different rates,” Psaki added.

Latest US Employment Data

The Labor Department announced that the U.S. added 943,000 jobs in July, a figure hailed as a sign that the nation’s economic recovery is moving in the right direction.

But as The New York Times observed, “the data was collected in the first half of the month, before [Delta] variant-related cases exploded in many parts of the country.”

“While the economy and job growth overall have been strong in recent months,” the Times noted, “experts fear that the variant’s spread could undermine those gains if new restrictions become necessary.”

The Groundwork Collaborative has cautioned that “with 5.7 million jobs to go before we reach pre-pandemic levels, now is not the time to pull back on unemployment insurance benefits.”

“Prematurely cutting off critical lifelines, like unemployment insurance, would disproportionately harm Black and brown workers; hamper economic growth and productivity in local economies by as much as $12 billion; and even discourage job searching,” the progressive organization warned.

This article is from Common Dreams.


15 comments for “7.5 Million Americans Lose Jobless Benefits on Labor Day

  1. Zhu
    August 29, 2021 at 08:23

    The rightist plan, Angel.

  2. August 28, 2021 at 23:52

    Live your life in fear and poverty. Sounds like the leftist plan for the world. Paying people not to work does two things: Massive inflation and a bankrupt country. But it does create a socialist state of misery. Instilling fear is what the elite do to herd the ignorant masses. Be prepared, but do not succome to it.

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    August 28, 2021 at 11:29

    The land of ‘milk and honey’…where the milk has turned sour and the honey stale. And then go tell the world how it should live.

  4. Zhu
    August 28, 2021 at 06:53

    Jeff, are the wages enough to live on? To pay for the commute? The well-off often think the poor are not really poor, deserve poverty somehow, etc.

  5. Zhu
    August 28, 2021 at 06:49

    What next? Will the unemployed be offered “permanent employment” (slavery) in exchange for food and shelter?

  6. Aaron
    August 28, 2021 at 05:57

    There seems to be an appalling lack of concern or urgency to address the Delta variant explosion and it’s effect on the economy/employment situation. Their attitude seems to be “let them get sick and die”.

  7. rosemerry
    August 28, 2021 at 02:06

    As long as the military might of the USA continues and the rich few and the corporations do splendidly, who cares about the “ordinary” mass of Americans any more than the mass of people in Afghanistan?
    Certainly not the powers that be of the nation which considers itself a model for us all.

  8. Jeff Harrison
    August 27, 2021 at 17:13

    Oddly, up here in Idaho, employers are begging people to come to work for them. People won’t take the jobs offered.

    • rosemerry
      August 28, 2021 at 02:07

      What are they paying????

    • James Simpson
      August 28, 2021 at 03:06

      Have you asked why people won’t take the jobs? Do the jobs pay enough to support a family? Are they unionised with healthcare? Do the bosses cream off most of the value created by their workers? As we’ve been seeing here in the UK, the answers are almost certainly no, no and yes.

  9. August 27, 2021 at 15:30

    To befuddled progressives self-encarcerated in the Democratic Party: It’s not an election year so ñañañañaña!

  10. Carolyn L Zaremba
    August 27, 2021 at 12:35

    New restriction ARE necessary. The Delta variant of Covid-19 is surging all over the world, particularly in the United States, where whole swathes of people in the southern states are unvaccinated. The schools should remain closed because the Delta variant attacks children and young people. Biden and his government are in absolute denial about the truth of this pandemic and that poses a very great danger to the public. I am a senior worker and cannot return to in-office work due to health complications. There are a great many people who cannot and must not be herded back into unsafe workplaces. All of the money being wasted on war and weapons should be being used to take care of people who cannot work due to the pandemic. Just pretending the danger is over doesn’t mean a thing to a virus.

    • James Simpson
      August 28, 2021 at 03:08

      “the Delta variant attacks children and young people” is partially true. They can become infected but they don’t show many symptoms. Is it right to deprive people of an education for that reason? Rich young people are happily attending their posh schools. Poor young people have to make do with very bad education remotely.

      • Realist
        August 28, 2021 at 16:33

        Ask the teachers who are at risk of catching a severe case of covid from their students if they agree with you. They don’t, especially since even the vaccinated have lost most of their immunity to the disease. Remote learning protocols will have to be improved as these waves of infection and death pass through our society. Only when the emergency rooms empty out, the morgues have buried most of their dead, and the health professionals (not the politicians) say the worst is over (Period! Full stop!!) can we start to pretend that all is normal, for it is freaking far from normal right now.

    • Realist
      August 28, 2021 at 16:22

      Thank you. You’re one of the few smart ones who has resisted this bandwagon that insists that the virus and its toll on human life is a hoax, that the whole scheme was cooked up just to damage the American economy, and that the proper course of action is simply to pretend that this medical emergency does not exist. Close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, go “la, la, la, la, la” and, like Ron De Santis, you will bring back both “freedom” and “prosperity” to America! Just don’t present at an emergency room with a catastrophic medical condition. Even the effing parking lots are filled with idling ambulances and dying patients on gurneys in Florida.

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