(The Center Square) – Recently released federal data shows an increase in new jobless claims as a prominent Congressional Democrat renewed efforts to restore federal unemployment benefits.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released Thursday that the first filers for unemployment benefits rose to 332,000 for the week ending September 11, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week. Although the two-week numbers are lower than most of the pandemic, they remain well above pre-pandemic unemployment levels.
“The highest insured unemployment rates during the week ending August 28 were recorded in Puerto Rico (4.5), California (3.7), New Jersey (3.4), District of Columbia (3.3), Illinois (3.1), New York (3.0), Rhode. Island (2.9), Connecticut (2.8), Georgia (2.8) and Hawaii (2.6), ”BLS said. “The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending September 4 were recorded in Louisiana (+7,664), Michigan (+5,318), California (+1,209), Kansas (+528) and in Nevada (+420), while the largest declines were in Missouri (-6,949), New York (-3,020), Florida (-2,482), Tennessee (-1,923) and Georgia ( -1 814).
Congress enacted additional weekly federal unemployment benefits in response to rising unemployment during COVID-19, state and local governments issued restrictions that resulted in the closure of many businesses deemed non-essential.
Critics argue that these payments – $ 300 per week in the latest program approved by Congress – roughly double state payments, and when added to other government benefits, it’s unnecessary for many. Americans to work.
Payments expired in early September without a fight from the Biden administration or many Democrats. Republicans hailed the expiration.
A Morning Consult survey released earlier this year showed 1.8 million unemployed Americans turned down job offers saying they preferred to continue receiving unemployment benefits. More than two dozen Republican governors pointed out this sentiment and turned down the benefits months before they expired.
Economists will be watching the unemployment figures closely over the next few weeks, now that federal benefits have expired.
Now that the lockdowns are over and the economy has reopened, many lawmakers were prepared to let federal benefits phase out, arguing that they urged Americans not to return to work.
Others, however, want to restore payments.
U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., this week announced new legislation that would maintain federal unemployment benefits until February 1, 2022.
“I have been very disappointed on both sides of the aisle that we have simply allowed pandemic unemployment assistance to expire completely when we are clearly not fully recovered from the consequences of the pandemic,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the meeting. ‘a virtual town hall Meeting. “I just couldn’t let this happen without at least trying.”
His plan, which faces an uphill battle in Congress, would also retroactively pay Americans when their benefits expire earlier this month.
These payments, however, are increasingly scrutinized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who say there may have been hundreds of billions of dollars in wasted taxes.
Republicans in both houses of Congress sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office calling on the government watchdog to investigate the waste and fraud in the federal unemployment program, which lawmakers say could reach $ 400 billion.
“It is concerning that the responsibility for determining the extent of fraud is scattered throughout a web of bureaucracies,” the letter read. “The dispersion of responsibilities suggests that Congress will be ill-equipped to have adequate information to assess future UI responses to major economic shocks; and, at the same time, making sure they aren’t plagued by gaping security loopholes that give fraudsters an open window to use to illegally obtain taxpayer funds.