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Jobless Benefits, Stimulus Said to Be Keeping Families Afloat

June 30, 2020, 7:51 PM

People who received expanded unemployment insurance assistance from the CARES Act were more financially secure than those who didn’t, a new report by the Urban Institute says.

Adults who didn’t receive benefits reported increased likelihood they didn’t take care of their medical needs because of costs, the research conducted and published Tuesday by the Urban Institute’s Michael Karpman and Gregory Acs indicates. Those families who lost work and income because of the pandemic and received jobless benefits in the 30 days before the May survey reported their incidents of food insecurity declined from 27.1% in March and April to 24.1% in May. There was no decline in food insecurity among adults who didn’t receive the benefits, the report says.

The Urban Institute is a Washington-based think tank that carries out economic and social policy research.

The researchers surveyed two groups of unemployed adults: those who received unemployment insurance in the 30 days before the May survey, and those who applied for assistance but hadn’t received benefits.

The report comes as Congress debates an alternative to the CARES Act legislation, which is set to expire at the end of July, about whether to extend pandemic unemployment assistance benefits for Americans who have lost their job. The government reported last week 1.48 million Americans filed for new state unemployment claims. More than 44 million people have filed for initial unemployment benefits since mid-March.

Given the continued high jobless rate, most congressional Democrats are calling for lawmakers to expand the $600 weekly boost in unemployment insurance through the end of March 2021. Republicans, though, are balking at extending the jobless benefits. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday it’s not “productive” to expand those benefits and better to focus on helping people get back to work with liability protection for small businesses and other incentives.

The institute’s report found that those who got jobless benefits could more easily pay utility bills, get medical care, and worried less about meeting basic needs such as buying food.

“As Congress considers the next phase of relief legislation, it will be critical to ensure unemployed workers and their families have assistance sufficient to protect them from food insecurity, homelessness, and deteriorating health,” the report says.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jaclyn Diaz in Washington at jdiaz@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com; Karl Hardy at khardy@bloomberglaw.com

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