Many laid-off US workers might make more money through unemployment

About half of all US workers could reportedly make more money while they’re laid off than when they had jobs before the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment benefits coupled with additional coronavirus aid means those approved could receive an average weekly payment of $978 – up from $378 paid on average late last year, according to Labor Department statistics reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

That’s slightly more than the $957 in weekly pay half of all US workers took in on average during the first quarter of 2023, according to department data.

The boosted aid, established in sweeping coronavirus legislation,  is scheduled to be paid out every week through July, giving low-wage workers a sense of security without risking catching or spreading the disease.

The analysis though assumes laid-off workers will have access to the funds — but gaining approval has been a frustratingly arduous process, the Post previously reported.

More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits during the pandemic, flooding outdated state systems. Some have said they’ve waited more than a month to get their funds as they navigate a mess of bureaucratic red tape.

Still, industry representatives fear the beefed-up unemployment payouts will prove to be challenging for businesses looking to reopen before August.

“The unemployment benefits are so generous that in many places workers are telling their bosses they’d rather be unemployed than return to their jobs,” Sean Kennedy, from the National Restaurant Association, told the Journal.

“It’s not that these workers are lazy, they’re just making the best economic decision for their families.”


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