Ending the extra $600 federal benefit will harm ‘vast majority’ of unemployed workers, especially women and people of color

In The News

By Alicia Adamczyk

If Congress decides not to extend the extra $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits past its July 31 end date, the “vast majority” of unemployed workers will be “harmed” without it, according to the House Ways and Means Committee.

While workers of all genders, races, ages and income levels will see a reduction in benefits, women, people of color and younger workers will be hit especially hard if the benefit is not extended. Those groups have have lost jobs at a disproportionate rate in the coronavirus recession, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Of the 19 million people who will receive regular unemployment benefits in July, 53% are women and 47% are people of color, CBO estimates. The analysis did not take into account self-employed and gig economy workers receiving unemployment.

Black people in particular have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus. Not only are they more likely to have lost their jobs than White workers, but they make up a startlingly high proportion of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. The death rate from Covid-19 for Black Americans is about 2.3 times as high as the rate for White and Asian people, according to APM Research Lab, which independently compiles coronavirus mortality data from 45 states and Washington D.C.

Women, too, have lost their jobs at a higher rate than men, as they make up a disproportionate share of workers in hard-hit sectors like education, health, hospitality and leisure. In April, the unemployment rate for women was almost 3 percentage points higher than for men: 16.2% compared with 13.5%, according to a report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

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