Florida will stop paying jobless residents the $300-a-week federal boost to unemployment benefits on June 26, the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity said Monday.
The announcement brings the number of GOP-led states that are terminating the special pandemic supplement early to 23 — all citing labor shortages as the reason. A total of 4 million laid-off Americans will forgo roughly $23.3 billion in benefits, according to The Century Foundation.
However, Florida, which is led by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, is not ending two other federal unemployment programs that provide benefits for freelancers, the self-employed, independent contractors and certain people affected by the coronavirus pandemic and for those who’ve run out of their regular state benefits.
Four other states, including Ohio and Arizona, are also keeping these programs until they expire in early September.
But 19 states are terminating them along with the extra $300 weekly payments, which will strip roughly 2.1 million out-of-work Americans of all their unemployment compensation.
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“Transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce,” Dane Eagle, secretary of the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity, said, of the $300 payment.
Ending benefits early
Over the past three weeks, a succession of Republican governors have opted to terminate one or more of the programs contained in the historic federal expansion of the unemployment system. They have cited the improving economy and the inability of employers in their states to find workers as the reasons behind their decisions.
The enhanced payments — which Congress first approved in its massive coronavirus relief plan in March 2020 and twice extended — are keeping Americans from returning to the labor market, the governors say. At least four states will offer return-to-work bonuses instead.
The pandemic programs are scheduled to end in early September in the states that are continuing them, under a provision contained in the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion relief package that President Joe Biden signed into law in March.
Democratic lawmakers and consumer advocates have appealed to the US Department of Labor to prevent the GOP states from pulling out of the federal unemployment programs, arguing that many Americans are still having trouble finding suitable jobs or can’t work because of childcare or health-related issues caused by the pandemic.
But an administration official told CNN last week that there is nothing the agency can do.
The nation’s economy has been improving as coronavirus case counts fall amid increasing vaccination rates. But there were still 8.2 million fewer jobs in April than there were in February 2020, and the number of positions created last month was a disappointing 266,000.
Whether the beefed up benefits are keeping people from accepting job offers is a matter of debate. Economists at the University of Chicago and Yale University, among others, found that last year’s $600 federal supplement to unemployment benefits had little to no impact on laid-off workers’ decisions.
A study released last week by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that the $600 boost would have only deterred “a small share” of job seekers from accepting job offers.
“Moreover, a simple extrapolation of those empirical results to early 2021 suggests that the $300 weekly UI supplement currently in place has been making a small but likely noticeable contribution to job-finding rates and employers’ perceptions of worker availability,” the researchers wrote.