As the clock ticks down on the federal unemployment supplement, which expires by the end of the month, urgent talks are underway to provide at least some cushion to those still out of work.
Reports indicate Republican lawmakers, considered hardliners on additional funding, are now considering an additional stimulus package that would give unemployment benefits of between $200 and $400 per week, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
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The maximum in California is $450 per week in state unemployment, but many workers receive less. The benefit is calculated based on recent earnings. California’s official unemployment rate is 14.9 percent, according to the state Employment Development Department. However, with some businesses forced to again close and production of film and television, not to mention live music, still at a standstill, that figure will likely rise.
Without the additional federal funds, those now on unemployment would still receive state benefits, which many say do not meet the needs of those with food, rent and other expenses. The Post report said the lower-figure of $200 per week appears to be more likely than the higher figure.
There may also be a stimulus payment to those who make under a certain amount per year, similar to the checks cut earlier this year. But much work remains to arrive at the figure if that’s to be part of the package.
Since the first stimulus bill provided workers with $600 in federal benefits in addition to state benefits, many claimed the cushion kept many from seriously seeking employment or returning to their former jobs. Opponents also claim that the $600 per week ballooned the deficit. However, those advocating for the funds claim it boosts spending in the economy.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to unveil a new proposed stimulus package this week. The House has already approved a $3 trillion package that extends the $600 per week increase, but there are miles to go to arrive at a consensus.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday on Fox News that discussions on more stimulus will start “in earnest” on Monday.
“Whether it’s a payroll tax deduction, whether it’s making sure that unemployment benefits continue without a disincentive to return to work,” he said. “It looks like” the bill will be in the trillion-dollar range, Meadows said.
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