- Trump's Lost Wages Assistance program aimed at supplementing weekly unemployment checks by $300 is ending this week.
- FEMA said states still setting up their programs will get enough funding to provided six weeks of benefits dating back to August 1.
- Nearly 30 million Americans are on unemployment as prospects dim on another coronavirus relief bill for the foreseeable future.
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For millions of Americans this week, a temporary $300 bump in their unemployment checks will be their last.
Funding for President Donald Trump's $300 unemployment benefits is starting to run out, leaving nearly 30 million people on unemployment benefits with only a fraction of their past wages.
In a statement to Business Insider, the Federal Emergency Management Agency confirmed on Thursday that states setting up their Lost Wages Assistance programs will get six weeks of funding dating back to August 1.
That puts the end of the federal initiative at September 5, the final benefit week. At least five states already paying out the money announced an end to their programs in recent days:
- New Hampshire
Last month, Trump approved the creation of the program using $44 billion in disaster relief funding from FEMA after negotiations on another coronavirus relief bill collapsed.
Michele Evermore, a policy expert at the National Employment Law Project, described the initiative as "too little, too short, and too late.
"This was in no way a substitute for an actual extension," she recently told Business Insider.
Normal state unemployment benefits, which typically cover about 30% to 50% of a person's past wages, will continue in states where the Lost Wages Assistance program expires.
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The average unemployment check amounts to roughly $330-per-week — a dramatically smaller figure compared to what millions of people had received in the spring and summer.
From March to July, Congress had authorized a $600 federal supplement to state unemployment checks through the CARES Act. Many economists said it helped maintain consumer spending for groceries and other essential goods even as the pandemic hit the economy.
But it expired amid fierce disagreements between both parties. House Democrats passed legislation that would reinstate the $600 benefit until January. But Republicans staunchly opposed it, saying it disincentivizes people from seeking work. Several studies have contradicted their argument.
Democrats blocked a slimmed-down GOP stimulus bill on Thursday, dimming the prospect of more federal aid arriving to jobless people anytime soon. A top Senate Republican said additional assistance may not arrive before Americans cast their ballots in November.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed that sentiment during an event in Kentucky, saying lawmakers are in "a challenging period."
"Regretfully, I can't tell you today we're going to get there… I wish I could tell you we were going to get another package but it doesn't look that good right now," he said.
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