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Republicans propose $400 a week cut from unemployment benefits

By Masao Suzuki |
July 28, 2020
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San José, CA - After months of delay and weeks of infighting, on Monday, July 27 the Trump administration and the Republican Senate put forward their proposal for more economic relief from the pandemic and recession. With the $600 a week in additional benefits expiring, the Republicans want to cut this by $400 a week, down to $200. With the national unemployment benefit averaging about $350 a week, this would mean a more than 40% cut in their benefits.

To make matters worse, it will hit the unemployed who have low-paying jobs the hardest. For example, a full-time worker in a small business that earns the minimum wage ($12 an hour in California) would lose more than half of their benefit under the Republican proposal. Lower-paid workers have been hardest hit by the recession, as low-wage service industries were shut down by the pandemic.

Even worse, the Republicans want this $200 benefit to last for only two months, and then shift to replacing 70% of their previous wages. For the same lowest paid full time worker here in California, the extra benefit would only be $100 a month. On the other hand, unemployed people who earned three times the minimum wage or more will get more than $600 a month in additional benefits.

But there is no way that states could switch their unemployment insurance benefits in two months. Right now, millions of jobless workers have not been able to apply or receive their unemployment benefits, with state systems swamped by those in need.

The $600 in additional unemployment insurance benefits has allowed millions of unemployed to keep up with their rent. Others have kept a roof over their head because of eviction moratoriums which are also expiring. Millions of tenants are already at risk of eviction, millions more will be threatened by the Republican proposal to cut benefits by $400 a week.