The $600 federal unemployment checks is about to end this week, despite the fact that the economy is still far from recovered from the pandemic.
The relief program is set to expire on July 31, but payments are only provided weeks ending on either Saturday or Sunday, which makes this week the last for which benefits are paid.
The Congress’ $600 enhancement is part of the $2 trillion economic aid package passed in March, and its end would leave more than 25 million people poorer each month.
Jobless Americans will continue to receive state unemployment benefits, but the pandemic are forcing many states to reimpose shutdowns and could expose more of the real pain of mass unemployment.
“These emergency unemployment benefits have been propping up families and propping up the economy now for several months,” said Georgetown Center on Poverty & Inequality senior policy analyst Kali Grant.
“Ending the benefits prematurely will really set back any economic recovery that may have been on the way.”
While the Congress begin to work on the next economic stimulus package this week, it is unlikely that they will agree on the next step to help unemployed Americans before the payments lapse.
The Congress gave the boost four months, as they were expecting the economy to bounce back quickly once businesses reopened, and it seemed like that at first, when employers hired more than 7 million workers in May and June.
According to an estimate from University of Chicago researchers, the $600 provision was controversial from the start, as the boost makes the unemployment benefit more than what two-thirds of workers made on the job.
Senate Republicans fear that extending the full benefit may create a disincentive for people to return to work, which is why they are considering scaling back the enhancement by several hundred dollars and creating a bonus for those who go back to work.
Meanwhile, the Democrats push to continue to benefit until 2021.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden pointed out that, “The right thing to do for families and the economy is extend supercharged unemployment benefits. They have unquestionably kept the economy afloat.”