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Unemployment benefit cuts start this weekend

Shannon Meyer of Louisburg, Missouri, is on the verge of losing the $ 363 weekly income the federal government has paid her since last year, when she stopped working as a home help due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m going to go back to being very, very poor and paying no money for anything other than basic necessities,” Meyer told HuffPost, recalling what it was like after he stopped working but before the start of his services last year.

Missouri, Alaska, Iowa and Mississippi are the first states where federal unemployment benefits stop early, with no more checks after Saturday, June 12. Congress first created the supplemental allowances last year to help workers weather the pandemic, but in recent weeks Republican governors in 25 states have pulled out of agreements with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) said when he announced the cut last month that “many business owners and employers in our state are still struggling, not because of COVID-19, but because they can’t find people to fill the positions.”

Democrats intended to continue the benefits until September, but President Joe Biden gave his blessing to states canceling the money earlier, even though Democrats never expected states to refuse the money. Some labor law experts and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Have said the law requires benefits to be paid, but the White House disagrees.

Republicans say the additional $ 300 the federal government added to weekly benefits has made it impossible for companies to hire, even as companies complain of worker shortages when there are no federal benefits in place . Almost half of Missouri businesses surveyed by the state labor department in 2019, for example, said they faced a shortage of skilled workers.

The states aren’t just canceling the extra $ 300. They are also removing programs that cover concert workers, part-time workers, and the long-term unemployed, groups that are not eligible for regular state benefits, have strict income requirements, and only cover ‘a fraction of the workforce. (Four states only cancel the extra $ 300 and keep the other programs.)

There isn’t much evidence that the perks have hurt hiring beyond anecdotal complaints from employers and weaker-than-expected job reports from the US Department of Labor. Job search activity on Indeed.com, a website where employers post vacancies, actually declined in the four states ending federal unemployment insurance benefits this week.

“It is not known why research activity is below baseline in states where federal unemployment insurance benefits are ending soon,” Jed Kolko, economist at Indeed Hiring Lab. written in a blog post. “If overly generous federal unemployment insurance benefits held back job seekers, we would expect search activity to increase, relative to the national trend, in states where these benefits end earlier.

More than 4 million workers will prematurely lose their benefits over the next two months, according to a Century Foundation analysis.

HuffPost Readers: Are You About To Lose Federal Unemployment Benefits? Will the loss of your benefits encourage you to find a job? Tell us about it – email arthur@huffpost.com. Please include your phone number if you are ready to be interviewed.

Meyer, 57, said she worked as a home help for several years before the pandemic, earning just $ 9.45 an hour, Missouri’s minimum wage. She receives just $ 63 per week from the federal pandemic emergency unemployment compensation program, which ensures that workers have continued to receive state benefits after they exhaust all available weeks of benefits. of State.

In Meyer’s case, the extra $ 300 was crucial.

“With the extra money that was coming in, I was able to buy things that I needed,” she said, such as hardware from the hardware store to winter her home and a used barbecue for $ 100.

She worked as a cook and waitress, but did not receive a callback when she applied for these jobs, despite the hype of a “labor shortage” in the restaurant industry.

More recently, Meyer said, she babysat for her daughter, who has a job at a medical clinic but cannot afford to care for her baby. With the end of her benefits, she said, her daughter will pay her $ 100 a week for her help.

Meyer doesn’t understand why governors would cancel federal benefits that don’t cost the state money but give residents lots of money to spend in local economies. Missouri, for example, will forgo $ 770 million in federal revenue for 147,000 workers, according to the Century Foundation.

“They just took away the purchasing power of everyone,” she said. “It’s going to be a tough summer. ”

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