This week, 25 states announced that they will end the additional $300 unemployment benefit early.
Individuals who have been receiving unemployment benefits through the pandemic have received additional funds as a result of the stimulus bills passed, most recently through the American Rescue Plan. The extra $300 per week allotted by the American Rescue Plan was scheduled to end on September 6. Instead, the first of the 25 states will discontinue the benefit on June 12. Many do so with the belief that this will help end the labor shortage reported most prominently in the hospitality industry.
However, is $300 a week actually keeping potential employees at home? Experts say it’s unlikely, particularly when you take into consideration other factors like health concerns and childcare (hybrid and virtual learning remain commonplace). And there is always the probability that - when faced with more than a year without a job - potential employees looked or are looking to other industries.
But even if $300 is enough to delay an individual’s return to work, isn’t that its own cause for concern? Because yes - $300 is more than you would earn weekly working full-time, earning minimum wage in, say, Pennsylvania. How is that enough? We all know what it costs to live in Bucks and Montgomery Counties.
Perhaps, then, we need to think less about an added unemployment benefit and more about how we can help individuals no matter their job be self-sufficient and financially stable in our economy.