Hundreds of unemployed Kentucky residents wait in long lines outside the Kentucky Career Center for help with their unemployment claims on June 19, 2020 in Frankfort, Kentucky.
John Sommers II / Getty Images
The financial help that jobless workers have received to support household income during the coronavirus pandemic is ready for a drastic reduction in a matter of weeks.
The CARES Act, a federal relief law enacted in March, provided unemployed Americans with an extra $ 600 per week in assistance. That federal-funded supplement adds to the traditional benefits of states.
As a result of this policy, the average American got around $ 980 a week from the unemployment system, according to a CNBC analysis of the Department of Labor data.
This is roughly equal to the weekly wages lost for the average worker.
However, this supplement will end after July 31, in the absence of an extension from Congress – which is not a foregone conclusion due to opposition from Republican lawmakers.
If it ends, the allowances will drop substantially for the nearly 31 million Americans who receive unemployment benefits.
Instead of receiving around $ 980 a week, the average American would get around $ 380 – a reduction of around 61%.
The average worker, instead of completely replacing lost wages, would have replaced about a third of their previous salary, according to a January report published by W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
The experience for workers will vary dramatically by geography, as states vary in the generosity of their allowance payments.
More from Invest in You:
These 5 remote jobs pay over $ 60,000 a year
Six strategies to help recent graduates find work now
5 jobs with six-figure salaries that allow you to work from home
The average worker in Mississippi, the least generous state, received $ 213 a week in unemployment benefits before the pandemic, according to data from the Department of Labor.
In Massachusetts, the most generous state, the average recipient received $ 552.
Maximum and minimum benefits
States set ceilings and minimum amounts of allowances for weekly unemployed aid. These are the lower and upper limits that an unemployed worker can expect to get from the system.
Most states set lows below $ 100 per week.
Hawaii’s low, the lowest in all states, will be only $ 5 a week if the federal $ 600 per week supplement expires after July. (This low low compared to other states is partly attributable to more vague eligibility rules, according to economists. Workers are eligible for benefits in Hawaii with lower annual earnings than other states. Meanwhile, Hawaii pays the second highest average weekly benefit, at $ 542.)
Massachusetts pays unemployed workers up to $ 1,234 per week, the maximum maximum benefit of any state.
In contrast, Mississippi has the lowest high between states, paying up to $ 235 a week.
With the $ 600 extra per week, unemployment benefits are more generous than they have ever been since the unemployment insurance system was created in the 1930s, according to labor economists.
Democrats want to extend the $ 600 benefit to prevent income from falling sharply after July. Republicans, who believe that the advantage is a disincentive to work, want to eliminate it or replace it with a different policy, as a bonus for those who find work.