Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards Becoming First Democratic Governor To Cut $300-A-Week Federal Unemployment Benefits
More than half of U.S. states now intend to withdraw early from the federal government program that gives unemployed workers an extra $300 a week, after Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday became the first Democratic governor to announce he’s planning on pulling the benefits, joining 25 Republican governors in doing so.
Edwards said he’s looking to withdraw from the federal government’s supplemental unemployment benefits program on July 31, as part of what he called a “compromise” with GOP legislators to approve a $28-a-week raise to state unemployment benefits.
Edwards is the first Democratic governor to announce plans to drop the federal payments, after all but three GOP governors have announced their states are leaving the program.
The first four states to formally cut off payments will do so at the end of this week: Missouri, Iowa, Mississippi and Alaska.
States that do not opt out of the program can continue paying the $300-a-week federal benefits until Sept. 6.
“We had always looked at the first of August, so the 31st of July is a good compromise,” Edwards said at a news conference on Thursday. He added that date is a good time for benefits to expire because it’s just before school sessions generally restart in the state.
The enhanced federal payments have become a major political issue over the past few weeks, with Republicans blaming them for encouraging Americans not to work and creating labor shortages, while Democrats counter that there is little actual evidence to back that up. A working paper released from researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco did find the benefits are a “small but noticeable” contributor to labor shortages in the United States.
54%. That’s the percentage of Americans who believe states are doing the right thing in cutting off benefits, a recent Quinnipiac poll found. Only 38% of respondents said states were doing the wrong thing by dropping the $300-a-week payments.
A report released by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee last week found local economies of states dropping the $300-a-week payments stood to lose a combined $12 billion.