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$ 600 a week
When Congress issued an increase in unemployment benefits of $ 600 a week under the CARES bill in the spring, the backlash was swift and violent.
The goal of the infusion, coupled with typical government benefits, was to completely make up for the lost wage for the average worker – nearly $ 1,000 a week. (Typical government benefits generally compensate for half of the loss of earnings.)
But many workers, especially those on lower wages, earned more while unemployed than they did at work.
Many conservative lawmakers lambasted politics as a deterrent to going back to work. Such momentum would keep the economy from recovering quickly, they argued.
Democrats argued that improvement was a necessity. Millions relied on income support to pay bills and put food on the table at a time when it was difficult to find a job and it made sense to keep people at home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus to prevent, they said.
Numerous studies found that the $ 600 scholarship did not have a negative impact on the job market. Overall, it didn't stop people from looking for work or leaving a job. Companies have had no problems recruiting job offers.
"There weren't enough jobs and too many people were unemployed," said Ioana Marinescu, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania who co-authored one of the studies. "It just wasn't a problem on a large scale."
Tug of war reappears
The supplement expired in July. Democrats wanted to extend it, but Republicans were against it.
This time around, lawmakers seem less vocal about their opposition, but the facilitation laws show they are still thinking about it, according to labor experts.
"It's left of the $ 600 concern," said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a progressive think tank. "(Legislation) seeks to get all states to speak out on this issue."
A cash infusion of $ 300 could now have a bigger negative impact, given the improvements in the labor market at the height of the crisis, Marinescu said. But it's not a huge problem, she said, as there is still a lack of jobs and the economy has not recovered to the extent that it would pose a threat.
"It's just not that bad and we need the incentive," she said.
Also, fewer workers would exceed full wage replacement with a $ 300 top-up, which is half the CARES Act grant and the same amount as a lost wage assistance program created by President Donald Trump this summer.
According to an analysis by Ernie Tedeschi, an economist at Evercore and a former Treasury Department official, the typical person would replace about 85% of their paycheck with an additional $ 300 before firing.