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Federal $600 a week addition to unemployment insurance runs out

By Masao Suzuki

Unemployment insurance rolls grow

San José, CA – 25 million Americans or more are losing their additional $600 a week in unemployment insurance benefits even as the number of people applying for unemployment benefits continues to rise. Up to one-third of all renters have already lost eviction protection from the federal government, and the Republican proposal does not include extending it. Millions of other households are under threat of losing their electrical power for not paying their bills.

The depth of the economic crisis stoked by the uncontrolled COVID-19 pandemic was shown this morning, July 30, in the Commerce Department’s report on Gross Domestic Product for the second three months of the year. This period from April to June saw GDP fall 9.5% from the previous three months, the biggest drop on record. Economists’ historical estimates show that last quarter was worse than any single quarter during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

More than 20 million jobs were lost in March and April, and millions of others who were self-employed or gig workers lost their livelihood. While about one third of the jobs lost came back in May and June, the economy is now sinking again with the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to record deaths in the United States in recent days. For the second week in a row, the new claims for regular state unemployment insurance rose, this time by 18,000 from last week’s estimate, to more than 1.4 million in the week ending July 25. This is the 19th week in a row that applications of unemployment insurance were more than a million.

The total number receiving state unemployment insurance benefits also rose, up 867,000 to more than 17 million. Another sign that jobless workers are having a harder time getting back to work was the increase in number of people who are getting benefits through the federal program that offers an additional 13 weeks when the regular state benefits run out. This program, called the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation or FEUC rose by 115,000 people to over one million in the week ending July 11.

Unlike the Democrats who passed their HEROES act in the House of Representative back in May, the Republican senators and White House do not have enough agreement to even pass a bill in the Republican controlled Senate. As soon as Republicans publicized their HEALS act on Monday that would cut the $600 a week additional unemployment by $400, differences broke out between Republican senators and between the Senate and the White House. Time also revealed more unsavory details of the Republicans’ Act. In addition to cutting the additional $600 a week by $400, and not extending the federal eviction protection, their proposal includes money for a new FBI building to be built across the street from a Trump business, money for Trump’s border wall, and a clause that would make it easier for businesses to sue their workers who challenge the safety of their workplace.

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