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Uncertainty Surrounds Trump's Unemployment Order

Aug 14, 2020
Originally published on August 11, 2020 1:20 pm

President Donald Trump says an executive order he signed on Saturday funds a $400 weekly supplement to unemployment benefits. But it likely won't be as helpful as it seems.


The actual amount the feds will pay is $300, just half of the amount given before the Congressional aid lapsed last month. States have the option to chip in the rest using earlier stimulus funds from the federal government, but many states have already allocated that money as the pandemic's economic fallout drains state coffers.

In the Mountain West, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming are expecting more than a 20% budget reduction in the next fiscal year.

Liz McNichol is a senior fellow with the progressive nonprofit Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. She says it's time for Congress to step up with more aid.

"If states don't get substantial fiscal aid now, they're going to cut budgets, they're going to cut school funding, they're going to cut healthcare funding," which are needed during the pandemic, McNichol said.

McNichol added that if those states don’t get direct help, they could even be contributing to more unemployment, including a million that’ve already faced that challenge.

"And that more than a million people who have been furloughed or laid off in just these last four months is more than were laid off in the entire span of the great recession,” she said.

Trump’s executive order likely won’t be able to help the unemployed for long, either. It’s drawing from $44 billion of emergency management funds, which would go fast if all 16.3 million of the unemployed people in July were to get the extra $300 a week.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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