How Many Set to Lose $600 Checks?

Guidelines

To determine a better number, let's review the Department of Labor Guidelines.

Programs which entitle an individual to receive FPUC. This program provides an  additional $600 per week to individuals who are collecting regular UC (including Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) and Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX)), as well as the following unemployment compensation programs: 

  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
  • Extended Benefits (EB)
  • Short-Time Compensation (STC)
  • Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA)
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
  • Payments under the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program  

Persons Claiming Benefits in All Programs

Persons Claiming UI Benefits in All Programs July 23 Report

Based on all the above table (which lags state claims by 2 weeks), over 30 million have federal unemployment benefits that are about to expire.

My lead chart uses that data. Continued state claims (Regular State in the above table) are a subset. 

Continued State Claims

Continued State Unemployment Claims in 2020 July 23 Report

The above chart is seasonally adjusted. The All Continued claims table and my lead chart are not seasonally adjusted.

Double Counting? 

Earlier today I fielded a question regarding double counting. The New York Times made the same claim in How many are collecting unemployment benefits? It’s hard to say.

The Labor Department says that as of late June — the most recent period measured — an additional 14 million people were tapping into Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program to aid freelancers, the self-employed and others ordinarily ineligible for state jobless benefits. But those numbers have been plagued by double-counting and other issues, and most economists think the true number is probably lower.

New York Times Confuses Two Issues

  1. How many are getting unemployment checks 
  2. How many are actually unemployed

Everyone in any unemployment program gets a weekly check of $600. 

Confusion stems from the fact that not everyone collecting unemployment benefits is unemployed. But there is no double counting.

PUA FAQ

Let's dive into the PUA FAQ for details.

You may qualify for PUA benefits if you are unemployed, partially unemployed, unable to work, or unavailable to work due to a COVID-19-related reason and you meet one of the following:

  • You are a business owner, self-employed worker, independent contractor, or gig worker and are not participating in the UI Elective Coverage program. You will be able to indicate if you have no employment wages (for example, you did not receive a W-2), to apply for the PUA program (which cannot be used for any other purpose). However, you can file a regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim if you believe you were misclassified and have wages from an employer.
  • You don’t have sufficient work history. This generally means you don’t have enough wages reported as an employee during the last 18 months for a regular UI claim. This could be the case if you are self-employed or an independent contractor, or if you are an employee with insufficient earnings. To qualify for PUA based on insufficient work history, you must have been recently employed, which could be satisfied if you had an offer to start working on a specific date but were unable to start due to a COVID-19-related reason.

If you qualify for unemployment at the state level, you file at the state level. There is no way around it. 

People "partially unemployed" as well as other individuals who do not qualify for state programs can apply for PUA. 

That does not double count anything but it does overestimate the "official" unemployment rate. 

Total Number of Unemployed

The total number of unemployed is somewhere between the state number (17.3 million) and the all claims number (31.8 million).

Recall that if you work as few as 1 hour, you are considered "employed". 

As a practical matter, the official unemployment rate is dramatically understated.

White House, Senate GOP Weigh Interim Unemployment Aid Extension

Bloomberg reports White House, Senate GOP Weigh Interim Unemployment Aid Extension.

Trump administration officials and Senate Republicans are discussing a short-term extension of unemployment insurance as lawmakers and the White House appear unlikely to reach a broader stimulus deal before the benefits lapse.

Some Republican aides on Capitol Hill cast doubt on its chances of succeeding. Several Republicans didn’t support the original $600-a-week unemployment insurance provided under the Cares Act. And any extension would require votes from Democrats, who want the entire program renewed. The payments expire at the end of July.

Most of us agree that there needs to be something in its place, and most of us also agree that the $600 flat amount for every worker is not a good idea going forward because it’s a disincentive to get back to work,” Portman said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Wednesday. 

Not all Senate Republicans are aware of discussions of a side deal to avoid a lapse in unemployment insurance. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said he hadn’t heard of the idea but would consider it if there is no stimulus deal by the first week of August.

Expiring Benefit Notes

If not extended, this will be a big hit to the incomes of millions.

Republicans, especially Trump, do not want to extend the $600 benefit because many make more being unemployed than they did working. 

This is what the bickering is all about.

Calendar Quirk

The last full week in July ends Saturday July 25 for most state UI programs. And that is when the benefits expire, not July 31.

Rubio proposes taking up the lapse in insurance "by the first week in August." 

That would be too late.

Unemployment Claims Rise for the First Time in 4 Months

Initial claims rose from 1.307 million to 1.416 million, an increase of 109,000. This was the first rise in 16 weeks.

It's also a signal that the jobs recovery may be over due to states backtracking on opening up.

For details and further discussion, please see Unemployment Claims Rise for the First Time in 4 Months

Mish