A new report from Congress' Joint Economic Committee warns that ending unemployment benefits 'would be a human and economic catastrophe.'
Another 2.8 million jobs could be lost if an unemployment provision in the coronavirus relief bill is not renewed, according to a new report from Congress.
The report, from the Joint Economic Committee, warned that unless a federal supplement to unemployment benefits is extended past its July 31 expiration date, "as many as 2.8 million jobs" could be lost, increasing the unemployment rate "by as much as 1.8 percent."
The report, titled "Cutting off Additional Unemployment Benefits While Millions are Unemployed Would be a Human and Economic Catastrophe," was released Thursday by the bipartisan, bicameral committee, which is responsible for tracking the economy and suggesting ways to improve it.
It estimated that in April, federal pandemic unemployment compensation, which provides $600 per week in additional federal funds to tens of millions of newly unemployed Americans, "offset roughly 30 percent of the loss in private-sector wages and salaries" during the COVID-19 crisis.
The program was part of the coronavirus relief bill passed in March, which approved $2.3 trillion in funds to stabilize the economy. Democrats in Congress are pushing to extend the program past its current expiration date in July.
Many Republicans, however, have said they want to let the program end. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last month that the bille was "dead on arrival" and vowed that to fight an extension of the benefits. On Thursday, dozens of House Republicans signed a letter demanding the program be allowed to expire. They argued that the benefits are too generous and would harm "employers' ability to incentivize employees to return to the workplace."
The joint committee report, however, suggested that this concern was "misplaced," and that economic research shows little indication that this is a major problem.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), who serves as vice chair of the joint ommittee, said Friday that newly released unemployment numbers for May show that the program is vital.
Noting that "more than 20 million Americans remain unemployed," he said in a press release that it is "critical that we continue Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and the Paycheck Protection Program, and get state and local governments the support they need. Workers and businesses need to know that we are all in this together and that we will provide them with support for as long as the economy remains weak."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.