Senators Chuck Schumer (NY) and Ron Wyden (OH) introduced the American Workforce Rescue Act on July 1st. The proposed legislation extends and expands versions of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).
Under the proposed AWRA:
The length of availability and amount of the FPUC is scaled based on each state’s unemployment rate.
The PEUC will be extended until March 27, 2021, possibly longer depending on the state’s unemployment rate.
The PUA and other essential programs will be effective until March 27, 2021.
Unemployment prior to the pandemic was 3.5%.
Our concerns with this plan are:
The AWRA may incentivize states to prematurely reopen in order to lower their unemployment rate while it is still unsafe to do so.
Even as state unemployment rates lower, there are entire industries, primarily face-to-face industries, that still won’t have jobs to go back to under phased re-openings.
The immunocompromised will continue to face extremely unsafe working conditions as long as the pandemic continues. They should not have to choose between their health and a paycheck simply because select industries are able to drop their unemployment rates below a trigger value.
The official unemployment rate does not take into account all of the people who are unemployed due to the virus. Millions of those who are unemployed because of the virus are classified as “out of work” instead of unemployed. In May when the official unemployment rate was 13%, real unemployment was 19.7%. The official numbers are skewed and an inaccurate measure to be basing legislation with such a high level of impact. (Source: EPI)
Even if unemployment was 11%, eleven percent still denotes one in ten citizens are unemployed. How is that acceptable? That one in ten still has the same bills to pay.
Legislation should not be based on the unemployment rate and, if it must be, it must also take all of these factors into consideration. ExtendPUA.org demands bolder and more comprehensive legislation from our Senators on this issue.
State systems are overwhelmed without constant reconfiguration and will not be capable of integrating this tiered system in a timely manner, leaving more people to be lost in the ever-growing cracks in the system.
A summary of the bill can be found here.
As of July 18, 23 states already fell below the 11% benchmark, with Colorado holding the 24th lowest unemployment, sitting at 11%. While the legislation looks appealing as a possibility, placing the need for pandemic assistance against a flawed metric, that does not take into account entire industries of people that cannot go back to work, is irresponsible.
Where fpuc would be in your state
If the awra passed July 18