The economy was expected to add over 1 million jobs in April. We weren’t even close: The final number was 266,000 jobs netted. At that pace, the economy wouldn’t recover all the jobs lost during the COVID-19 recession until 2024.
The disappointing jobs report was met with more calls from business groups and Republican leaders to curtail weekly $300 enhanced unemployment benefits. The argument is that the generous federal benefit—which is paid on top of state benefits—is incentivizing jobless Americans to not go back to work.
“The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market,” tweeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The White House disputes that narrative. Instead, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen points to closed schools and childcare centers as much bigger obstacles holding back the job market.
While the federal government is unlikely to end the program before the September expiration, some Republican-controlled states are already announcing plans to ax it. That includes Montana, which became the first state to announce it would opt out of the enhanced unemployment program. It will exit the week of June 27, and instead state leaders say they plan to pass legislation to offer jobless residents a $1,200 bonus if they return to work.
To help jobless Americans better understand what’s going on, Fortune created a guide laying out what we know about the future of the $300 enhanced unemployment benefit.
How many states have opted out of the $300 benefit? Are there any repercussions?
Alabama, Arkansas, Montana, and South Carolina have all taken official steps to opt out of the $300 enhanced unemployment benefit. Those states are all run by Republican governors who have spoken out against the program. More Republican states could soon follow suit.
States do have the power to opt out of the enhanced program, and face no legal repercussions for withdrawing. However, eligible residents in those states will still receive regular, state-issued unemployment benefits.
If states remain in the program, how long will the $300 unemployment benefits last?
Residents in states that do not opt out of the program will continue to receive the enhanced $300 unemployment through the week of Sept. 6—that is, if they retain their eligibility for unemployment insurance.
Who is eligible for the $300 weekly unemployment benefits?
The passage of the CARES Act in March 2020 expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits. That expansion was extended by the package signed into law in March 2021. Eligibility now extends to jobless part-timers, self-employed workers, freelancers, and independent contractors. These unemployed Americans covered through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, along with anyone on traditional state unemployment rolls, automatically get the $300 weekly federal benefit.
All of this is on top of recipients’ state unemployment insurance benefit. For instance, a worker in New York who gets the maximum state benefit of $504 per week would receive a total of $804 per week.
What about PUA and PEUC unemployment protections?
The $1.9 trillion package signed into law by President Biden in March extended Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) from March 14 to Sept. 6. PUA expands who is eligible for unemployment benefits to include people like business owners, part-timers, and freelancers. PEUC grants an extra 24 weeks of jobless benefits to recipients once they exhaust their state benefits. Even if states opt out of the $300 extra unemployment payments, eligible residents in those states would still be covered by PEUC and PUA.
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