Senate Democrats want to replace most of your lost paycheck with permanently boosted unemployment benefits

  • Senate Democrats have unveiled a plan to boost unemployment benefits permanently.
  • The plan aims to replace 75% of a worker’s lost paycheck.
  • It also sets up a $250 weekly benefit for gig workers who don’t qualify for regular unemployment.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A pair of Senate Democrats introduced a plan on Wednesday to permanently boost unemployment benefits, making state checks larger to cover most of a worker’s lost wages.

The plan from Sens. Ron Wyden and Michael Bennet would also set up a $250 “jobseeker allowance” for gig workers and contractors — essentially a weekly benefit that replaces Pandemic Unemployment Assistance so they would no longer be shut out from traditional state unemployment systems. Gig workers have secured access to unemployment benefits in 2020 and 2021, but only on an emergency basis via the pandemic-related stimulus programs.

“Unemployment programs are critical to helping workers stay afloat during difficult times — but too many workers still struggle to access their benefits in our patchwork of outdated state systems,” Wyden said in a statement. “This proposal will protect workers by strengthening and expanding benefits, modernize UI infrastructure with needed technology investments, and prepare us for the future by tying benefits to economic conditions.”

The plan also requires states to provide a minimum of 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, which varies greatly from one state to another. An additional 13 weeks are triggered if there is a sudden spike in the unemployment rate.

Currently, laid-off workers are eligible for a $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit — on top of state unemployment benefits — which ends in early September.

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