August 25, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) – Monday marked two weeks since Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin predicted states would have the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) unemployment program created by Executive Order up and running within two weeks, but only two states—representing less than 10 percent of national continuing unemployment insurance claims—reported having actually distributed aid through the program. Even in those states only a fraction of eligible recipients received payments to date, so the actual figure is likely significantly lower.
Guidance from the Department of Labor and FEMA indicated that states approved for LWA are only guaranteed to receive three weeks of the cut-in-half unemployment benefit, dependent on the level of funding remaining in FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). According to FEMA the DRF “fund(s) eligible response and recovery efforts associated with domestic major disasters and emergencies;” major disasters have been declared recently in Iowa, California, and several gulf states.
“Economists, governors, and workers widely agree that President Trump’s smoke and mirrors executive orders simply are not good enough,” said Rep. Don Beyer, Vice Chair of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee. “It has been a month now since Senate Republicans shamefully allowed enhanced unemployment benefits to expire. The American people need real relief that fights the pandemic and puts money in workers’ pockets – posturing and gimmicks will not solve the enormous problems they face. If the White House does not get serious about the level of aid that is needed it will imperil the economic recovery.”
The White House has continued to resist compromise on a new economic relief package, and growing numbers of American families are suffering without the help they need from the federal government. The Administration began the week with more false claims about the economy and boasts about the stock market, but clear warning signs abound:
Washington Post: Debt, eviction and hunger: Millions fall back into crisis as stimulus and safety nets vanish
CNBC: Economists see a chance of a double-dip recession, survey shows
Bloomberg: Millions of U.S. Jobs to Be Lost for Years, IRS Projections Show
Politico: Economy hurting after Congress fails to act on stimulus
Washington Post: President Trump’s attempt to bypass Congress on stimulus is offering only limited economic relief
Business Insider: Trump says the economy is quickly recovering from the pandemic. But 4 jarring statistics blow a hole in his argument.
New York Times: Unemployment Claims Rise as Rollout of $300 Benefit Lags
Associated Press: Rise in jobless claims reflects still-struggling US economy
CNBC: The rise in jobless claims may be a warning to Congress that the economy needs stimulus
CBS: Economy is slumping again as Washington puts stimulus on hold
Financial Times: Trump’s executive orders provide little money for jobless
Forbes: $300 Weekly Unemployment Payments Are ‘Too Little Too Late’ To Prop Up August Spending, Goldman Sachs Says
USA Today: 'We shouldn’t have to beg': Americans struggle without unemployment aid as Congress stalls on extending benefits
Politico: ‘Not just a low-wage recession’: White-collar workers feel coronavirus squeeze
Atlantic: The Pandemic Recession Is Approaching a Dire Turning Point
Rep. Beyer serves as the Vice Chair and top Democrat on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, and is the author of the Worker Relief and Security Act, which would tie enhanced federal unemployment benefits to public health crisis declarations and economic conditions.