Confusion reigns over when the $600 in additional unemployment payments end. For months, the widely publicized end date of the weekly benefits was July 31. But this is a misunderstanding: The extra $600 benefit is set to be paid through the week ending July 25-26.
The missing week is a matter of poor policy language: The CARES Act’s Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program authorizes the extra payments through Friday, July 31, while state unemployment benefits define the end of the week as a Saturday or Sunday. This has led to widespread confusion, as USA Today reported, as many websites for state labor departments listed the payments’ end date as July 31, with numerous media sources, officials, and economics experts also stating July 31.
Democrats have pushed for an extension of the benefit, foreseeing a crisis scenario where eviction moratoriums lift just as many unemployed tenants lose their ability to pay rent. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio said that “we’re going to see a massive number of people evicted.” State unemployment benefits paid an average of $370 per week in 2019, which is below the poverty line for many families.
Republicans have argued that recipients are making more money unemployed than they do while working, which is true. Indeed, a Congressional Budget Office report found that five out of six people earn more with the benefits than they do from their jobs, and may be incentivized to stay home, meaning that an extension would keep employment rates somewhat lower. (The report does not specify how much lower). But the report also found that the additional $600 also benefits the economy by boosting consumer spending. The report predicts 25 million jobless people will be available to work each week in the third quarter.
In short: There are five more payments going out, not six.