By Jack Phillips
Starting on Labor Day, more than 7 million people across the United States will lose their pandemic unemployment benefits, and the White House isn’t planning to extend the program.
The emergency federal jobless benefits of $300 per week was a key provision of the CARES Act passed in March 2020 and was extended by Congress in subsequent legislation. Those benefits are slated to end on Labor Day, coming weeks after a federal eviction moratorium expired.
The Sept. 6 expiration date was part of a congressional deal made earlier this year to extend the federal jobless aid. Also earlier this year, about two dozen Republican-led states moved to end the expanded unemployment benefits early and argued that the program creates a disincentive for Americans from joining the workforce.
Jared Bernstein, who sits on the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told The Associated Press in a report published Sunday that “$22 trillion dollar economies work in no small part on momentum and we have strong momentum going in the right direction on behalf of the American workforce.” The Biden administration has no plans to reevaluate the unemployment benefits, he said.
Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made similar statements last month, arguing the U.S. labor force is ready for the benefits to end.
“The temporary $300 boost in benefits will expire on September 6th, as planned,” Yellen and Walsh wrote (pdf) in a letter to the chairs of House and Senate committees in August. “As President Biden has said, the boost was always intended to be temporary and it is appropriate for that benefit boost to expire.”
“Overall the economy is moving forward and recovering,” Walsh told AP in a separate interview. “I think the American economy and the American worker are in a better position going into Labor Day 2021 than they were on Labor Day 2020.”
Left-leaning lawmakers in the Democratic Party are now urging the Biden administration to revive the pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
“We need to extend the expanded UI for millions of unemployed workers because this crisis isn’t over. People are not only dealing with COVID surges; they’re dealing with impacts of climate change, from extreme flooding in my district to heat waves and fires in the West,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), a member of the leftist “Squad,” said in a statement to news outlets over the weekend.
According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Sept. 3, 235,000 jobs were created in August, representing a dramatic decline from the 1.1 million jobs created in July and below experts’ predictions of 733,000 jobs.
The COVID-19 Delta variant was flagged as the main reason why fewer jobs were added to the economy last month, said President Joe Biden after the numbers were released by the agency.
The Epoch Times has contacted the White House for comment.