Expanded Unemployment Benefits Will Start This Week

We have good news and bad news on the unemployment benefit front:

The federal government will this week release funds from a coronavirus stimulus package to boost jobless benefits, but how quickly those payments reach laid-off workers depends on overburdened state unemployment systems, the head of the U.S. Labor Department said in an interview….He said funds to increase jobless payments by $600 a week—more than double the existing maximum in some states—will be distributed to states this week, but he doesn’t know when states will make such payments to individuals. The enhanced benefits were included in the roughly $2 trillion stimulus package that was recently signed into law.

So the firehose is connected to a hydrant and ready to go, but we’re not quite sure when the hook-and-ladder will get it to where the water is needed.

But it should be soon. I keep hearing that the “creaky” unemployment systems at the state level are going to be a problem, and sure, 3 million new claims in a single week is a lot. On the other hand, during the height of the Great Recession states processed nearly that many new claims each month for over a year. That’s a pretty big number too, so those systems can’t be all that creaky.

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