22 GOP-Led States to Remove COVID-Related Unemployment Benefits Beginning In June

About 22 Republican-led states have decided to pull out of federal unemployment benefit. Additionally, a majority of those states are ending benefits to those who have been unemployed for over six months as well as self-employed workers.

Thursday's report by the Department of Labor was released as many GOP governors announced their plans to end the benefits. Business executives and Republicans have accused the unemployment benefit of preventing unemployed people from finding jobs.

The GOP-led states will begin the federal aid cutoffs in June, according to an analysis done by the Associated Press. The following are pulling out of the $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit, according to Insider: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Kansas and Florida, two states with Republican governors, are also considering ending the federal unemployment benefit.

Psaki on Unemployment Insurance
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 13: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks as a chart of initial claims for unemployment insurance from July, 2020 to May, 2021 is shown on a monitor during a daily press briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House May 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. Psaki held a daily news briefing to answer questions from members of the press. Alex Wong/Getty Images

For more reporting by the Associated Press, see below.

About 3.5 million people will see their benefits reduced in the coming months, according to Oxford Economics.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to 444,000, a new pandemic low and a sign that the job market keeps strengthening as consumers spend freely again, viral infections drop and business restrictions ease.

In Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt said this week that the state will end the federal benefit on June 26. That was unhappy news for Gilbert Cruz and his wife, Marrissa Enloe-Cruz, whose graphic design company in Tulsa has suffered a collapse in business since the pandemic struck.

Both received jobless aid under the program for self-employed. But even with the $600 a week in federal aid between the two of them, they had earned more from their business before the pandemic. Now, they're unsure what they'll do, especially because they're uneasy about sending their 7-year-old son back to school before being vaccinated.

"It's going to mean picking and choosing what bills to pay, or getting behind on things," Enloe-Cruz said. "It will mean whether or not we're able to put food on the table."

Thursday's data release showed that applications for unemployment benefits declined 34,000 from a revised 478,000 a week earlier. The number of weekly jobless claims — a rough measure of the pace of layoffs — has declined steadily since the year began.

About 16 million people were receiving unemployment benefits during the week ending May 1, the latest period for which data is available, the government said Thursday. That is down from 16.9 million in the previous week, and it suggests that some Americans who had been receiving aid have found jobs.

Eliminating the $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit is one of several measures that states have taken to restrict or eliminate jobless aid and press more recipients to seek work. That trend gained momentum after the April jobs report, released earlier this month, showed that employers added far fewer jobs than expected, in part because many couldn't find enough workers.

Those moves will end all benefits for approximately 3.6 million of the nearly 16 million people receiving aid, or about one in four of current recipients, according to The Century Foundation.

In addition, 35 states have reinstated a requirement that jobless aid recipients search for work in order to keep receiving benefits. That requirement had been suspended at the start of the pandemic, when many businesses were closed and Americans were encouraged to stay at home.

As the economy quickly recovers from the pandemic recession, consumers are showing more confidence and spending at a healthy rate. Most economists think the economy could expand 7% this year, which would amount to the fastest annual growth in more than 35 years.

Yet the rapid reopening from the pandemic has created a wide range of supply shortages that have disrupted what economists had hoped would be a smooth rebound. Home building fell sharply in April, for example, as builders struggled with shortages of lumber and labor.

The shortages have caused a spike in inflation, which led stock markets to tumble this week because investors worry that higher prices will force the Federal Reserve to prematurely cut back on its efforts to stimulate growth.

Fed officials have stressed their belief that the accelerating price increases are temporary. But the minutes of their April policy meeting, released Wednesday, showed that some Fed officials support a discussion at future meetings about dialing back their efforts.

Woman Studies
Ellen Booth, 57, studies at her kitchen table to become a certified medical coder, in Coventry, R.I., Monday, May 17, 2021. When the restaurant she worked for closed last year, Booth said it gave her "the kick I needed." She started a year-long class to learn to be a medical coder. When her unemployment benefits ran out two months ago, she started drawing on her retirement funds. Booth hopes to pass her upcoming exam and soon hit the job market. David Goldman/AP Photo