WASHINGTON, DC. – Congressman James Comer recently led a letter to House and Senate leadership outlining concerns with proposals to extend the $600 supplemental unemployment insurance (UI) provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 62 of his congressional colleagues signed onto this letter which was sent to House and Senate leadership today.
Allocating additional unemployment relief for suddenly jobless workers at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was an emergency step to stabilize families’ and workers’ financial situations. However, soon after supplemental UI payments took effect across the nation, business owners were seeing unintended negative effects of these payments.
In the letter, Congressman Comer and his colleagues highlight that many employees are receiving more UI assistance than they were previously receiving from their employer. “Researchers at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics report 68% of individuals eligible to receive unemployment assistance would receive a UI amount greater than their previous earnings, with one out of five receiving more than double their prior wages,” the letter states.
“Numerous employers in my home state of Kentucky have told me – with rightful frustration – that they’re having to persuade employees to return because their UI assistance is simply greater than their earnings before. This is moving the mission of regaining our economy backwards,” Congressman Comer said. “The supplemental unemployment insurance was intended to be a lifeline for those whose employer was unable to retain them. But now we’ve seen it lose its original purpose where individuals are set on a path to rely on government assistance instead of returning to their job.”
The letter warns that if these benefits are extended, it would “reinforce and deepen the structural issues and abuse of public assistance programs that existed prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” The letter urges House and Senate leadership to refocus on helping Americans return to work, and to allow the $600 supplemental UI benefits to expire at the end of July, as intended in the CARES Act.
You can view the full letter here.