This week Maryland announced it will end $300 enhanced weekly unemployment payments beginning July 3. That means exactly half of U.S. states will soon drop the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit.
“Our health and economic recovery continues to outpace the nation, and we have reached the benchmark set by President Biden of vaccinating 70% of adults,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wrote in a statement released on Tuesday. “While these federal programs provided important temporary relief, vaccines and jobs are now in good supply. And we have a critical problem where businesses across our state are trying to hire more people, but many are facing severe worker shortages. After 12 consecutive months of job growth, we look forward to getting more Marylanders back to work.”
The economic picture in Maryland, and the nation as a whole, has recovered remarkably since the depths of the COVID-19 recession. Indeed, Maryland’s unemployment rate hit 6.2% in April, down from its 9% peak in April 2020. However, the recovery still has a ways to go to reach pre-pandemic lows: The jobless rate in Maryland was 3.5% in February 2020.
With Maryland dropping the benefit, a total of 25 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, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
These 25 states each 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. The Biden administration disagrees with that economic assessment. Instead, the White House points to school and day-care closures and low wages for many jobs as bigger contributors to the increasingly tight labor market.
According to Fortune’s analysis of data from the Century Foundation, more than 4 million jobless Americans would lose their federal $300 weekly checks once these 25 states halt the payments. That’s more than 25% of all jobless Americans currently receiving unemployment insurance.
Most of the 25 states opting out of the program will do so before July 4. In Texas and Florida, the payments will stop the week of June 26. Meanwhile, Maryland and Tennessee will continue payments until July 3. 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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- 23 states—including Florida and Texas—will soon halt $300 weekly unemployment benefits
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