At today’s rate, the governor’s abandoning federal unemployment assistance is worth $ 280 million for 64,000 people


I now have firm figures on the size of the federal unemployment benefits this Governor Hutchinson, under pressure from the hospitality industry, is giving up in hopes of forcing people back to low-paying, dead-end jobs, whether or not they have child care.

the Manpower Services Division today provided figures on how much is being paid under federal pandemic benefit programs that will end on June 26, 10 weeks before benefits expire.

The numbers tell you what those benefits are worth today. We cannot know how many would remain covered and be added or removed during the period after June 26. But the current payment gives you an idea of ​​the enormity of the federal infusion that the governor is waiving. This is money, remember, that will NOT be spent on burger restaurants, hotels and other businesses that are crying because they cannot recruit enough people to fill part-time shifts. (less than $ 3 per hour for restaurant waiters with tip income.)

I reported yesterday on the programs that are denied. Now the cost per category at current reimbursements:

  • Total PUA benefits paid, week ending 8/5/2021 = $ 5,434,856
  • Total PEUC benefits paid, week ending 8/5/2021 = $ 4,026,281
  • Total MEUC benefits paid, week ending 8/5/2021 = $ 5,570
  • Total FPUC benefits paid, week ending 8/5/2021 = $ 19,223,274
  • Total unemployment insurance benefits paid, week ending 8/5/2021 = $ 2,151,394

Unemployment assistance in the event of a pandemic (PUA) was created for workers not covered by regular state unemployment insurance, such as the self-employed and independent contractors. Payment is based on net profits declared in the past. 28,614 applicants Last week. For the week ending May 8, the state paid $ 5,434,856. It is an average of $ 189 per person.

Emergency Pandemic Unemployment Benefit (PEUC) extends the state’s regular unemployment insurance, which normally ends at 16 weeks. The amount of the claim is based on the salary before the job loss. There was 19,178 applicants Last week. The amount paid last week was $ 4,026,281 or an average of $ 209 per applicant.

Mixed unemployment benefit (MEUC) was created to provide an additional payment of $ 100 to those receiving regular state Unemployment Insurance or PEUC benefits who earned at least $ 5,000 in net self-employment income in the past year taxation. 13 applicants have received at least one MEUC payment. $ 5,570 was paid last week.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)) provides an additional $ 300 per week to those eligible for regular state unemployment, PEUC and PUA. The State paid in this category a total of $ 19,223,274 Last week, enough to cover more than 64,000 people. Many of them are recently unemployed who are still entitled to existing state benefits. To receive benefits in Arkansas, you must certify that you are trying to find a job. Presumably, Asa’s workforce services division is not getting snookered about this. After all, this is an agency where 24,000 requests remain pending for verification checks.

In summary, at last week’s rates, Governor Hutchinson gave up $ 28.6 million per week, or $ 286 million over a 10-week period, money that currently goes to about 64,000 beneficiaries, including more than 47,000 people for whom the state’s regular unemployment ran. outside.

Will the loss of that money send people back to work?

According to the reasoning of Hutchinson and the hospitality industry, concert workers (the self-employed) are not looking for work because of an average payment of $ 489, including the additional $ 300.

Those who have expired state regular unemployment benefits and are unable to find work receive an average of $ 509, including the minimum supplement of $ 300, which is hardly more than the minimum wage for a week of 40. hours, if you can get a full-time job, but with no benefits.

The hospitality industry and others are banking on desperation to send people back to work with the same low wages, the same benefits, part-time hours and the same harsh conditions. Without a doubt, this will happen in some cases. But not every unemployed person is a candidate to throw hamburgers or carry heavy burdens. And many of those who lost their jobs during the pandemic were convinced by the business uncertainties associated with the pandemic, Arkansas’ failure to adequately tackle the spread of disease and other factors not to reintegrate. their old job. The size of the workforce indicates that many have found other jobs.

We’ll find out in July and August if cruelty is the cure for worker shortages, which are worse in hospitality than manufacturing. The answer will be cold comfort to those who are penniless in a condition that has no room for tenants, food stamp recipients and other disadvantaged groups.

PS: There is another category of unemployment benefits, the state program. He paid $ 2.1 million last week. Presumably the restaurant industry is not prepared to pretend that the pitiful sum is preventing people from looking for work. But you never know. Wellness mythology and the Big Lie die hard in today’s Republican Party. Maybe they will say Arkansas would have a more robust economy without any unemployment benefits. Isn’t this the logical extension of years when Arkansas tightened the screws on the unemployed?

PPS: I liked this comment from Blue Hog Report on the media coverage of this chamber influenced issue:

RELATED: The the governor did quite well in a CNN interview for his belief that bad payers no longer needed cash.

He said at a press conference today that he saw no need to offer a bonus to people to return to work like Montana did by stopping federal benefits. Others who returned to work did not receive a bonus, he said. Cold.

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