Agency Finds Jump in US Unemployment May Top Out at $300

Labor Department guidance says states can count existing payments
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2020 4:37 PM CDT
Agency Finds Jump in US Unemployment May Top Out at $300
President Trump holds up one of the four executive orders he signed that address the economic fallout from the pandemic on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The way the Labor Department figures it, the federal government's increase in unemployment benefits under President Trump's plan might come to $300—half the size of the checks that had been going out. That's because the agency's guidance advises that states would be allowed to count their existing payments toward the $100 matching payment they're to make under the plan, CNN reports. In announcing his plan Saturday, Trump called it a $400-per-week payment, though the federal government's $300 would only kick in if the states commit to another $100. Already dealing with their own financial problems, many states said they can't afford that. The department said Sunday that states can figure in their current payments. "This option requires no new expenditures of state funds beyond what the state would already be paying out from state funds in regular unemployment compensation benefits," an email said.

For that matter, Trump's plan, which bypasses Congress, could be derailed in the courts; it was called "absurdly unconstitutional" by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "I don't see how anyone actually realizes this benefit absent the Department of Labor or FEMA finding some loophole in the current legal structure," said an analyst at the National Employment Law Project. Gov. Mike DeWine said Ohio won't be adding $100 in new money, but the state does plan to take the federal government's $300 if it can shift current payments. That still would hold the additional money to $300, per the Columbus Dispatch. Either way, it's not close to the $600 provided under the pandemic relief legislation that expired in July. Common Cause said, "The power of the purse is granted to Congress in the Constitution whether President Trump likes it or not." (More unemployment benefits stories.)

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