State officials warn it would take 8-20 weeks to implement Trump's proposed 'sliding scale' for unemployment benefits
The White House wants to end the $600 weekly unemployment checks Americans' have received during the pandemic and replace them with payments of up to 70% of a worker's previous wages. But the National Association of State Workforce Agencies warned Congress it would take between 8 and 20 weeks to transition to this more complex system, according to a memo obtained by NPR. Trump's Department of Labor said in May that it "strongly" opposed unemployment based on previous wages because it would be "exceedingly difficult if not impossible to implement." Democrats are pushing to extend the $600 unemployment benefits and argue that reducing or delaying the elevated cash assistance will have devastating ripple effects on individuals and the economy broadly. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The White House announced last week it wants to end the $600 weekly unemployment checks Americans' have received during the pandemic and replace them with payments of up to 70% of a worker's previous wages. But the National Association of State Workforce Agencies warned Congress that it would take the majority of states between 8 and 20 weeks to transition to this more complex method of calculating individuals' benefits, according to a memo obtained by NPR. Under President Donald Trump's proposed system, Americans' average weekly federal unemployment would drop to about $200. State unemployment systems have already struggled to meet the demand of the approximately 30 million Americans currently on unemployment, in part because of outdated technology. Officials say switching to a system based on partial wage reimbursement would involve a more complicated and time-consuming process of gathering information about every unemployed person's former wages. Trump's Department of Labor told Congress in May that it "strongly" opposed unemployment based on previous wages because it would be "exceedingly difficult if not impossible to implement." Republicans have for months warned that the $600 unemployment payments, which were passed in March under the CARES Act and expire next week, will discourage many Americans from going back to work. But prominent economists who've studied the issue in recent weeks say there's no significant evidence the elevated benefits are discouraging workers from getting new jobs. Economists also say the cut in unemployment could mean millions of fewer jobs are created in the coming year. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows insisted last week that the technological issues won't prevent timely delivery of unemployment going forward. Democrats are pushing to extend the $600 unemployment benefits and argue that reducing or delaying the elevated cash assistance will have devastating ripple effects on Americans and the economy. "With their outdated technology, it would take states weeks to implement any change to the $600 boost," Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, said last week. "This would cause significant disruption. The only option that ensures families can pay August rent is extending the $600."SEE ALSO: Kellyanne Conway rewrites the history of Trump's call to 'liberate' states from lockdowns and claims certain governors 'blew past' his recommendations Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: The rise and fall of Donald Trump's $365 million airline
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New filings for unemployment benefits rose last week, signaling continued layoffs even before autumn chills outdoor...New filings for unemployment benefits rose last week, signaling continued layoffs even before autumn chills outdoor business.
Some unemployed Americans will soon receive an extra $300 per week as states roll out bonus relief benefits from FEMA
Summary List Placement In order to help those who were laid off due to the...Summary List Placement In order to help those who were laid off due to the pandemic, Congress earlier this year sent out weekly $600 bonus unemployment checks. At the end of July, those benefits lapsed, and a month and a half later, Congress has yet to pass another package. But on August 8, President Trump allocated $44 billion to FEMA to provide grants to states in order to bridge the gap between the original stimulus package and the next one— whenever that may be, if it happens at all. The Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance Grant allowed states to decide on their own if they needed the money and apply it accordingly. The deadline for the grant was September 10, and now states are figuring out how to distribute the money, and in many cases have already sent it out. The $300 weekly unemployment bonus payments you may have heard about recently are a part of this rollout, but their distribution status at a state level varies. Every state except South Dakota applied for the FEMA grant. Guam and the US Virgin Islands will also be receiving funds as well. CNBC reports 21 states have either finished paying out the $300 payments or have begun sending them out. Those include, in alphabetical order, according to CNBC: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. It is also worth noting that the FEMA grants differ from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which covers those who are not covered by unemployment benefits, including independent contractors and part-time workers. The $300 per week benefit payments supplement a state's current unemployment payouts — meaning they'll be applied in addition to whatever unemployment benefit the state is already paying those who lost their job. In order to be eligible for the FEMA grant funds, a household must already be receiving $100 in unemployment benefits. This means about 6% of households will be ineligible for this new plan, according to CNBC. John Pallasch, assistant secretary for the US Department of Labor, said this barrier was enacted so the funds would go to those who had lost their primary source of income, according to CNBC. Some states are still processing the payments. For the states that have not yet processed them, the benefits will be applied retroactively for the weeks of August 1, 8, and 15. Kentucky is the only state giving out a minimum of $400 a week, ($300 from FEMA and $100 in state funds.) Montana did as well, but recently ran out of funds, according to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Arizona has already paid out all the grant money, which lasted for a total of six weeks. Louisiana has also concluded payments as well, as reported by Louisiana Workforce Commission. Like the $600 weekly federal unemployment bonus payments, the states' weekly $300 supplemental payments aren't indefinite, either — the maximum number of weekly payments is six, and that includes any retroactive August payments.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what happens when two hurricanes collide
Since Congress can't come to an agreement, President Donald Trump on Saturday signed four executive actions...Since Congress can't come to an agreement, President Donald Trump on Saturday signed four executive actions aimed at providing Americans economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic. But they face both the possibility of being challenged in the courts and of being difficult to implement. He touted that his "administration will provide immediate and vital relief to Americans struggling in this difficult time," but so far it's unclear exactly when and how that can happen. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. President Donald Trump swooped in on Saturday to show Americans that he was trying to fix what Congress couldn't. Before a crowd of masked, cheering supporters at his private golf club in New Jersey, the dealmaker-in-chief announced four executive actions aimed at providing Americans economic relief amid the coronavirus pandemic. He signed memos and orders on student loans, evictions and foreclosures, the payroll tax, and unemployment benefits. While Trump claimed the moves would provide "immediate and vital relief to American struggling in this difficult time", upon further inspection, the four actions face significant legal challenges, implementation problems, and possible opposition from both parties. Congress can't reach a deal The Democratic House and the Republican Senate have been fighting for weeks over the next stimulus bill. The two parties are still more than $1 trillion apart in their proposals. Meanwhile, nearly 31 million Americans are on unemployment, and the US GDP plunged by a record 33% in the first quarter. One of the biggest sticking points between the two parties was the additional $600 a week the federal government had been providing in addition to state benefits to jobless Americans. Republicans argued the weekly boost "paid people to stay home", while Democrats insisted it was necessary. "They don't understand the crisis in the country," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said of the Republicans. But Schumer didn't like Trump trying to take action when Congress couldn't, either. He and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement on Saturday that the administration's moves amounted to little more than empty gestures. "These policy announcements provide little real help to families," Pelosi and Schumer said. "Instead of passing a bill, now President Trump is cutting families' unemployment benefits and pushing states further into budget crises, forcing them to make devastating cuts to life-or-death services." 1. Trump's memo on the $400 a week unemployment boost could take months to implement The weekly $600 federal unemployment insurance expired on July 31, so Trump proposed a $400 a week boost. But as Business Insider's Joseph Zeballos-Roig pointed out, the president's memo outlines a "lost wages program" outside of the usual unemployment insurance system that experts say could take months for overwhelmed states to implement. And states may not be able to pay the 25% Trump says they should. 2. Trump's memo on the payroll tax could gut Medicare and Social Security, and companies probably won't follow it Even though Trump's memo directs the treasury secretary to defer payroll taxes through the end of the year, experts told Zeballos-Roig that companies will likely hold on to the money in case they end up on the hook for it, so workers probably won't see it in their paychecks. Furthermore, the payroll tax funds Medicare and Social Security, two popular programs that millions of Americans rely on for health insurance and financial support. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called the move "a reckless war on Social Security." 3. Trump's order on evictions and foreclosures is light on details Trump's housing order passionately outlines how important it is to keep Americans in their homes during the pandemic, particularly so they can successfully socially distance themselves from others and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. It also lays out how Black and Hispanic Americans have endured the brunt of the pandemic's economic hardships. It says "It is the policy of the United States to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, residential evictions and foreclosures during the ongoing COVID-19 national emergency." But the text is light on details of how the Trump administration will keep Americans from getting foreclosed upon or evicted. Perhaps more specifics will come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the coming days. 4. Trump's memo on federal student loan relief could let borrowers defer payments until the end of the year CARES Act help for student loan borrowers was set to expire at the end of September, so Trump's memo extends his administration's policy to set Department of Education loan interest rates to 0% and let borrowers defer payments through the end of 2020. Does Trump have the authority to take these actions? Before Trump signed his signature in Sharpie, people started speculating whether he had the power to take executive action on these economic issues. The Constitution gives Congress the power to decide how the federal government spends its money. The executive branch carries out those directives. Therefore, a court battle is likely on one or all of the executive actions, challenging Trump's authority to make them. When asked about possible legal challenges at the press conference on Saturday, Trump said he believed they would go "very rapidly through the courts, if we get sued — maybe we won't get sued." Below are links to the full text of the 4 executive actions Trump signed on Saturday: Extending federal unemployment benefits: "Memorandum on Authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for Major Disaster Declarations Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019" Enacting a payroll tax holiday: "Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster" Preventing evictions and foreclosures: "Executive Order on Fighting the Spread of COVID-19 by Providing Assistance to Renters and Homeowners" Suspending student loan payments: "Memorandum on Continued Student Loan Payment Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic" Joseph Zeballos-Roig and Connor Perrett contributed reporting.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How billionaires got $637 billion richer during the coronavirus pandemic