Additional States to End Enhanced Unemployment

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10 states will end their pandemic-era unemployment boosts at the end of the week.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, nearly all states offered some manner of expanded unemployment benefits. This included things like larger payments, more frequently recurring payments, or waiving the typical work search requirements to receive benefits. While not a foolproof fix, with millions of Americans still falling through the cracks, these enhanced benefits still proved vital for many families trying to make ends meet during a tumultuous economic period.

Though the pandemic is not yet over, the proliferation of vaccines has allowed a large portion of the working populace to return to business. This has prompted multiple states to pledge to end the expanded unemployment benefits ahead of their scheduled expiration date in September. 12 states have already set an early end date, and as of today, an additional 10 states have joined them.

Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Utah will all be ending their expanded unemployment benefits program as of tomorrow, June 26. The vast majority of states that have chosen this course of action are governed by Republican lawmakers, many of whom are of the opinion that the expanded benefits are disincentivizing people from working, causing some of the labor shortages that have been seen around the country.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell recently spoke about this perspective; while conceding that the expanded benefits may play a part in the labor shortage, based on what he has observed, the major factors continue to be concerns about public health and safety, as well as a general shift in public consciousness toward more stable, better-paying employment.

As of last week, new applications for unemployment are down to 411,000, a 7,000 drop from the week prior. Continuing claims have reached their lowest point since the beginning of the pandemic, holding at less than 400,000.

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