The average person claiming unemployment in July received an payment that was lower than the federal minimum wage in 22 states, according to an analysis by financial news network CNBC. Unemployment benefits ranged from an equivalent of $4.52 an hour in Louisiana to $7.15 in Wisconsin, the analysis shows.
That may leave families with little income to pay bills at a time when many are no longer receiving a federal unemployment subsidy and jobs are scarce. Workers with existing health conditions may also fear returning to work due to the risk of COVID-19 infection or may be unable to find a job due to childcare duties.
“Regular unemployment insurance benefits in the U.S. are woefully inadequate in some states,” said Peter Ganong, an economist and assistant professor at the University of Chicago.
While a $600-a-week federal supplement to state unemployment benefits helped many to make up for income shortfalls, the subsidy has since expired. Only a handful of states have yet implemented a replacement $300 benefit boost authorized by President Trump last month.
It will take several more weeks for most states to begin sending out the new subsidy. But funding is only estimated to last about five weeks and thousands of workers won’t be eligible due to program restrictions.