#SaveThe600 Coalition Blasts Trump Administration’s False Promise of Unemployment Relief

Following is a statement from 22 organizations, signed-on below:

“The Trump Memorandum is a false promise of relief that fails to meet the needs of unemployed workers, their families, and their communities. It is likely illegal, unworkable, won’t get money to anyone quickly or for long, and is deeply inequitable. If the administration really cared about struggling families, it would have agreed to extending Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)—the $600 weekly payments—weeks ago.

“The Memorandum won’t get relief to desperate families. States must now scramble to set up new benefit systems to pay an inadequate and short-lived benefit, at the worst possible moment. Millions of workers suffering large income losses have waited weeks or months to receive their first UI payments, and many face unfair denials due to overzealous scrutiny of claims. Further burdening UI agencies is inexcusable when millions of people remain in limbo. Indeed, it looks as if states will need to set up entirely new mechanisms to deliver these funds, which could take weeks or months to do. Many states simply will not invest in distributing this benefit.

“Further, states can only distribute the $300 weekly federal benefit if they partially match it with $100 per week. It appears that the Administration will allow state UI payments already being made to count as the $100 per week, which means that if this benefit is paid, it will only be $300 in supplemental funding, not $400. Egregiously, the Memorandum excludes workers whose state benefit is below $100, a senseless policy that will disproportionately hurt people of color and underpaid workers.

“The cut in benefits will hurt families and the economy. Even if the Memorandum could be expected to reliably deliver benefits, cutting the federal benefit in half—from $600 to $300 each week—would be disastrous. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that extending the $600 UI benefits through the middle of 2021 would provide an average quarterly GDP boost of 3.7 percent and sustain the employment of 5.1 million workers. We need a real solution to keep our economy going.

“The cruel gamesmanship of the President and Senate Majority Leader is forcing millions into poverty. Roughly 30 million workers have lost the $600 compensation and are now receiving an average of $370 a week in unemployment compensation. It is worse for Black workers, who disproportionately live in states with the lowest benefit levels. Without the $600 federal payments, the most an unemployed worker in Florida or Alabama can receive is $275 a week. The maximum benefit works out to $6.88 an hour for a full-time worker—not nearly enough to cover basic living costs like rent, utilities, and food. Many workers receive far less. The unconscionable decision to allow the $600 payments to lapse particularly hurts women and people of color—and especially underpaid Black and Latinx workers who have never been paid enough to accumulate savings.

“The Memorandum doesn’t solve the problems people are facing. Millions of children live in households without enough to eat or that are behind on rent. State and local governments are facing deep budget cuts with lasting consequences for their residents, especially women. Immigrant families need relief. Only Congress can pass a package that is robust and comprehensive enough to match this unprecedented crisis.

“We need real action now, not political stunts. We are in the middle of an economic and public health crisis. Millions of people are hurting. Our collective survival depends on doing right by the families and communities hit hardest by this crisis. We know the right approach to restoring the $600 FPUC lifeline, meeting families’ urgent needs, and shoring up our economy. Congress must pass, and the president must sign, legislation that takes comprehensive action to protect working families.”


Unemployed Action
National Employment Law Project
Rights & Democracy (NH & VT)
SPACEs In Action
National Women’s Law Center
Jobs With Justice
People’s Action
Economic Policy Institute
Tax March
Detroit Action
Service Employees International Union
Associated Musicians of Greater New York, AFM Local 802
Coalition on Human Needs
Step Up Louisiana
Ohio Organizing Collaborative
Groundwork Collaborative
Center for Popular Democracy
TakeAction Minnesota
Maine People’s Alliance

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