The GAO reported:
With the CARES Act, three federally financed limited-term programs for unemployment insurance (UI) were created, with which the entitlement to benefits was expanded and benefits improved. In its weekly press releases, the Department of Labor (DOL) publishes the number of weeks of unemployment benefits claimed by individuals in each state during the period and reports the total as the number of people applying for benefits nationwide. DOL officials told GAO that they have traditionally used this number as a proxy for the number of people receiving benefits because they are closely related. However, the number of claims was not an accurate estimate of the number of people who received benefits during the pandemic, due to, among other things, backlogs in processing a historical volume of damage.
It was recommended that the Department of Labor revise its weekly press release to clarify that the numbers do not represent unique individuals filing claims and to pursue options to determine the actual number of applicants.
However, the erroneous count is hardly the biggest problem with unemployment assistance programs. Congress launched the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to provide benefits to self-employed and gig workers who are not eligible for regular government unemployment programs. PUA recipients were underpaid in most states. The payout was below the poverty line in 70% of the states reporting the data The Wall Street Journal. Additionally, as ProPublica reported, at least 9 million people who should have received a $ 1,200 stimulus check hadn’t received one by mid-September. Most of them have been low-income people who do not file an income tax return and are harder for the government to find. There is no report on how many of these millions have received their stimulus checks since September.
Without congressional measures, the PUA expires on the day after Christmas together with an emergency aid program that grants the unemployed 13 additional weeks if their state unemployment benefits have been used up. In most states, eligible individuals receive 26 weeks of unemployment benefit plus the 13 additional weeks that Congress makes available. For anyone who lost their job at the beginning of the pandemic, these 39 weeks also expire at the end of this month. According to a report By Andrew Stettner and Elizabeth Pancotti of the Century Foundation, 4.4 million workers have already exhausted their benefits.
At the Economic Policy Institute, Elise Gould and Josh Bivens write:
While last summer’s recovery began strongly from the 22.2 million jobs lost in March and April, employment growth has accelerated since then slowed down considerably. The first dose of austerity was the expiration of the expanded UI benefit in July – specifically the PUC program, which provided additional benefits of $ 600 per week. Although the economy grew strongly in the third quarter due to the momentum of business reopening and the strong income support provided by the CARES programs, these PUC cuts will continue to have serious effects Tolls on job creation go forward. As of October, the US economy still lost 10 million jobs compared to February. If employment growth continues to slow or even reverse in the winter months as the number of COVID-19 cases rises, states close down large segments of businesses, and federal policy makers fail to provide additional assistance to unemployed workers or state and local governments it will be years before we return to anything that resembles the pre-pandemic economy. It would be a tragedy to force US workers to wait another whole decade between brief periods of tight labor markets resulting in acceptable wage growth. […]
When more generous and longer-lasting UI benefits turn off amid a rebound that is still 10 million jobs below pre-recession levels, it becomes clear why those benefits should be driven by economic conditions rather than the whims of Congress. Implementing effective automatic stabilizers – both in the user interface and for programs like federal tax assistance to state and local governments – should be an urgent priority for in-depth management.
You calculate that Extending unemployment benefits beyond December in all programs would result in an income increase of $ 441 billion, an increase in gross domestic product of 3.5% and the creation or saving of 5.1 million jobs in 2021.
So in the first 100 days of the Biden Harris administration, there is one more task: to initiate a complete overhaul of the country’s 85-year-old unemployment insurance program. The changes should include the uniformity of who is insured for how long in all countries. In a world with large democratic majorities in Congress, this revision should come with a federal guarantee of a job for anyone who wants one. Obviously, such majorities are not yet in sight.