NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Unemployment checks will likely to get a lot smaller.
The extra $600 Americans get in weekly unemployment benefits ends July 31 and it appears unlikely the U.S. Senate will pass any additional stimulus bill that includes an extension of the unemployment aid.
For Krystal Erekson of Keller, her unemployment benefits have been a lifeline.
Erekson has a compromised immune system, so when pandemic hit she was forced to leave her job as dental assistant.
“Having children and medical concerns, it’s kind of tough,” she explained. “That extra money has been a big help with getting me through everything.”
But what has been a safety net for some, many Republican lawmakers say has become a crutch for others.
According to a recent University of Chicago study, two out of every three unemployed workers receive benefits that exceed their lost earnings.
For example, a full-time worker in Texas that was making close to $16 an hour before they lost their job would be receiving unemployment benefits equivalent to them making more than $23 an hour.
If the $600 weekly federal benefit is allowed to expire, starting in August the unemployment benefits would drop to the equivalent to $8 an hour – roughly half of unemployed worker’s pre-COVID-19 paycheck.
While that may encourage some to be more aggressive in trying to find work, some worry will it would also hurt those who try but cannot find a job.
The unemployment rate for Texas in May was 13%.
Letting the federal $600 benefit expire will also hurt those like Erekson who is trying to return to work but remains at high risk.
“I think it’s really easy for them to say people don’t need that extra money but I think they don’t realize the everyday struggles that people are going through,” she said. “It’s going to be tough if it’s taken away.”
One possible solution that has been discussed is to cap people’s unemployment benefits at 100% of their pay from their prior job.
The Texas Workforce Commission said its current computer technology can be used to adjust unemployment insurance benefit amounts but lawmakers have expressed concern whether other states’ outdated technology could also handle the adjustment.