Jobless Workers Brace for Early End to Uunemployment Benefits in 25 States

At least 25 states decided in May and June to prematurely cut off the sweetened aid, which provided an extra $300 a week on top of regular state unemployment benefits. The supplemental benefit is not slated to expire until Sept. 6, 2021.

Here is a list of states and when their $300 federal unemployment benefit will end:

Alabama – June 19
Alaska – June 12
Arizona – July 10
Arkansas – June 26
California – September 6
Colorado – September 6
Connecticut – September 6
Delaware – September 6
Florida – June 26
Georgia – June 26
Hawaii – September 6
Idaho – June 19
Illinois – September 6
Indiana – June 19
Iowa – June 12
Kansas – September 6
Kentucky – September 6
Louisiana – September 6
Maine – September 6
Maryland – July 3
Massachusetts – September 6
Michigan – September 6
Minnesota – September 6
Mississippi – June 12
Missouri – June 12
Montana – June 27
Nebraska – June 19
Nevada – September 6
New Hampshire – June 19
New Jersey – September 6
New Mexico – September 6
New York – September 6
North Carolina – September 6
North Dakota – June 19
Ohio – June 26 – September 6
Oklahoma – June 26
Oregon – September 6
Pennsylvania – September 6
Rhode Island – September 6
South Carolina – June 26
South Dakota – June 26
Tennessee – July 3
Texas – June 26
Utah – June 26
Vermont – September 6
Virginia – September 6
Washington – September 6
West Virginia – June 19
Wisconsin – September 6
Wyoming – June 19

On Saturday, the $380 in weekly jobless benefits Robyn Gregorieff and her husband had depended on for basic needs is getting slashed by 79%, leaving the couple with just $80 a week to live on.

She would have been entitled to the larger amount until September if her home state of Alaska didn’t cancel federal unemployment programs early due to mounting concerns over labor shortages.

“It makes no sense because the federal government is paying that,” the 43-year-old Gregorieff told Yahoo Money. “Why would you just take it away besides just to be cruel? The jobs aren’t magically going to appear.”

Gregorieff is one of 300,000 workers in Alaska, Iowa, Missouri, and Mississippi who will see their benefits significantly reduced or cut to zero starting June 12. Another 4.2 million workers in 21 more states will join them later this month or in early July when their states eliminate the benefits, too, cutting off a much-needed lifeline.

Gregorieff, who lost her job as a pharmacy technician in January, only started getting unemployment benefits in April because the application process was so slow. A month later, Alaska made the decision to pull out of the programs.

“As Alaska’s economy opens up, employers are posting a wide range of job opportunities and workers are needed,” Tamika Ledbetter, Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development commissioner, said in a press release on May 14 announcing the early withdrawal of benefits.

But the job search for Gregorieff has so far been difficult. She can’t find a job as a pharmacy technician and has had no luck getting other types of jobs, either.

“I applied for all sorts of jobs like school bus driver. They don’t need drivers because school is out now,” Gregorieff said. “Every single pharmacy technician around town I’ve applied to… there’s only so many pharmacies, so they only need so many pharmacy technicians.”

‘We wouldn’t have food, we wouldn’t have our electricity paid’

The move to cancel the federal unemployment programs early gained steam among Republican governors following April’s disappointing jobs report. House Republicans — including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — urged all GOP governors to opt out. Massachusetts and Vermont are the only states with GOP governors that have not yet canceled the programs.

On Saturday, workers in Alaska, Iowa, Missouri, and Mississippi will lose access to 12 weeks of federally funded benefits. That includes the extra $300 in weekly benefits, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for workers who don’t normally qualify for unemployment, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program that provides extra weeks of benefits.

Nearly 3 in 5 workers affected by the early expiration in the 25 states will be left with no benefits at all.

That includes Lisa Jones, who worked as an event planner for a hotel in St Louis, Missouri, and has been laid off since March 2020. She currently gets $580 in benefits, but she’ll get her last payment on Saturday.

“If my benefits drop to zero, I will have to be living off my savings,” the 54-year-old told Yahoo Money. “My husband hasn’t lost his job in the pandemic, that’s what’s keeping us afloat.”

The cutoff in benefits will also disproportionately hurt people of color.

For instance, two-thirds of unemployment insurance recipients in Mississippi are Black, while around half in South Carolina and Alabama are. The percentage of Black Americans relying on unemployment in those three states is at least three times higher than the national average of 18%.

“This is an extremely cruel move by the 25 Republican governors to end this vital pandemic lifeline early,” Alexa Tapia, unemployment insurance campaign coordinator at the National Employment Law Project, told Yahoo Money. “This is definitely going to harm those workers and it’s primarily workers of color.”

‘We’re not sitting on money’

Around 4.5 million workers in those 25 states stand to collectively lose $25.2 billion in benefits, averaging out to potentially thousands of dollars per worker, if they received the benefits until the federal expiration of September 6, according to an analysis by the Century Foundation.

Gregorieff and her husband have relied on her benefits while he completes a six-week union carpentry apprenticeship that makes him eligible for unemployment but he’s still waiting on approval.

Her benefits helped pay for their $945 monthly rent as well as utilities, which added another $410 a month. She was approved for rental relief in April, but is still waiting on the payments. She worries she won’t be able to pay next month’s rent.

“Unemployment has gotten us through these past few weeks that I’ve been able to get it,” Gregorieff said. “If I didn’t have my unemployment, we wouldn’t have been able to get any gas, we wouldn’t have food, we wouldn’t have our electricity paid, we wouldn’t have cell phones.”

The extra benefits helped keep both Gregorieff and Jones afloat, but neither received more from unemployment than from their jobs, a frequent criticism of the GOP and a factor they blame for keeping workers out of the labor force. Both have actively searched for jobs while receiving benefits, but have had no luck.

“We’re not sitting on money and we’re not playing with the money,” Jones said. “The money is a good help from the government, but it’s like a catch-up game. I’ll catch up now, but I’ll fall back again because it’s going to stop.”

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