Republican elected officials and critics of expanded unemployment have argued that federal unemployment payments, adjusted since the outset of the pandemic, are too high. Below is a summary on state actions to limit supplemental unemployment to date (May 11, 2021). Additional GOP-led states are working towards similar actions and others will likely leave the federal program amid poor recent employment figures and reports of employers facing difficulty finding workers.
The CARES Act provided a Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) payment of $600 a week to supplement the weekly benefit determined under state UI laws for all programs (regular UI, PEUC, EB, and PUA) through July 31, 2020. A $300 weekly supplement was later added for a period of time following July 31, and the December coronavirus relief legislation provided a $300 supplement from December 26, 2020 to March 14, 2021. The American Rescue Plan Act extended that $300 federal supplement through the week ending September 6, 2021.
According to the Center on American Budget and Policy Priorities, the average American receives $387 from their state in weekly unemployment payments, which totals $687 with the federal supplement. Based on a 40-hour workweek, that means the average unemployed American receives the equivalent of $17.17 an hour.
State Actions as of May 11
Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced Tuesday, May 11 that Iowa would stop participating in the federal government's supplemental unemployment benefits program on June 12, 2021.
Gov. Doug Burgum (R) is pulling his state from the program, announcing Tuesday, May 11 North Dakota will drop out on June 19, 2021.
Gov. Tate Reeves (R) announced Monday, May 10 that Mississippi would stop participating in the federal government's supplemental unemployment benefits program on June 12, 2021.
Gov. Kay Ivey (R) said Monday, May 10 that the state would stop participating in the federal government's supplemental unemployment benefits program, with Alabama opting out on June 19, 2021.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) announced Friday, May 7 that Arkansas would stop giving the $300 weekly payments on June 26, 2021.
Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said Thursday, May 6 that South Carolina would end federal benefits at the end of June.
On Wednesday, May 5, Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) said he would withdraw from the program by June 27, 2021, also claiming his state was plagued by a labor shortage. Montana will instead offer a one-time $1,200 bonus for returning to work, Gianforte said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has recently announced that he will allow the executive order to expire on May 29, 2021 which waived the work search requirement.
On Sunday, May 9, Gov. Spencer Cox (R) told CNN he thinks exiting pandemic-related unemployment benefits is a good idea, arguing the recent lower-than-expected jobs report is "what happens when we pay people not to work."
Gov. Doug Ducey (R) reinstated work search requirements waived during the pandemic for unemployed workers to receive benefits. The Arizona Department of Economic Security will begin reinforcing the requirement beginning the week of Sunday, May 23, 2021.
Vermont's work search requirements were reinstated as of this week, May 10, 2021.