Jobless Nebraskans will no longer receive $300 enhanced weekly unemployment payments beginning June 19. That announcement means that nearly half of U.S. states will soon drop the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit.
“I certainly think the employers should pay what the market demands to hire people…the government should not be interfering with that by artificially driving that number up,” Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts told reporters this week. “Now it’s time to return to normalcy.”
With Nebraska dropping the benefit, a total of 24 states have announced plans to opt out of the weekly $300 enhanced unemployment benefit. The other states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
These 24 states all have Republican governors who argue that the federal enhanced benefit—which is paid on top of state benefits—is incentivizing jobless Americans to not go back to work. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce agrees. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp expressed that view recently on Fox News: “We’re not doing away with regular unemployment…We’re just taking away this federal subsidy that’s encouraging people not to get in the workforce.”
The White House doesn’t agree with the assessment. Instead, the Biden administration cites school and daycare closures and low wages for many jobs as bigger contributors to the increasingly tight labor market.
According to Fortune‘s analysis of the Century Foundation’s data, nearly 4 million jobless Americans would lose their federal $300 weekly checks once these 24 states halt the payments. That’s 25% of all jobless Americans currently receiving unemployment insurance.
As Fortune has previously reported, Jobless residents in states that opt out of the $300 benefit will still receive regular, state-issued unemployment benefits. Jobless 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.
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