Outdated state unemployment insurance systems in the US that struggled to handle the first round of coronavirus aid for jobless Americans could take months to adopt a Republican proposal that would limit benefits to a certain percentage of past wages from the workers.
A $ 1 trillion stimulus package presented by Senate Republicans on Monday proposed reducing weekly jobless benefits from $ 600 to $ 200 until states can adopt a more complicated system that would limit aid to 70 percent of income that workers received before they lost their jobs.
But in a memo to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the copy of which was first obtained by NPR, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies said that most states would take eight to 20 weeks to switch to a system Distribution of weekly benefits based on workers’ wages before losing their jobs.
THE WHITE HOUSE, THE REPUBLICAN PROPOSAL REDUCES JOBLESS AID FROM $ 600 TO $ 200
“For any new legislation, states request that a future effective date be established with sufficient time for scheduling,” the memo says.
The National Association of State Workforce Agencies did not respond to a request for comment.
According to Labor Department data, more than 30 million Americans, or about one in five workers, are raising financial support.
Without the sweetened aid, the typical unemployment check, which varies by state, will return to less than $ 400 per week. According to an estimate by the Century Foundation, it will drain approximately $ 15 billion a week from the economy, raising fears of a “fiscal cliff” that will harm both individual households and the gradual recovery of the economy.
US BUDGET DEFICIT.
The possible delays are so severe that in May, the Labor Department said in a memo to the House Ways and Means Committee that it “strongly opposes a change in the FPUC program that would base the amount paid on the amount paid. to an individual claimant. ” “
The agency said it would face “extraordinary challenges in implementing a fixed amount payment in addition to benefit payments across multiple programs,” adding that it “would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to implement a single payment amount in addition to various benefit payments to which FPUC is applied, both from a technological point of view, as well as to obtain adequate information on which to determine the amount to be paid. “
The Labor Department did not respond to a request for comment.
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State agencies are hampered by notoriously outdated technology and understaffed offices; Many trust COBOL, an Eisenhower-era computer system. They also had to have an unprecedented number of claims for unemployment benefits. In the span of 54 weeks, some 52 million Americans have applied for help.
Under the Republicans’ proposal, the additional $ 200 a week in unemployment aid would last until September, giving states just over two months to adjust to the new system. Starting in October, that payment would be replaced by an amount calculated based on the recipient’s previous salary, without a check exceeding $ 500, according to a memo from the Senate Finance Committee.
If states cannot update their unemployment programs in late September, they can request a waiver from the Labor Department to continue paying a fixed dollar amount for up to two more months, according to the memo.
In October, that additional payment would count as income when determining eligibility for federal low-income programs.
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