Virus Relief Pays Half of Laid Off Workers More Than Their Jobs

The “unemployment benefits on steroids” are giving many people more money per week than they made in their job before they were laid off or furloughed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Wall Street Journal reports that with the additional $600 per week the federal government is giving Americans who are receiving unemployment benefits, about half of those workers are better off financially by staying at home and not working.

The average weekly benefits paid to an unemployed American has risen from $377.97 in late 2019 to about $978, according to the Journal. The extra money is part of the CARES Act that was signed into law in late March.

Some states are giving unemployed workers even more money, which further raises the benefits they receive.

“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,” the National Restaurant Association’s executive vice president of public affairs, Sean Kennedy, told the Journal.

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

Kennedy called the added benefits “unemployment benefits on steroids.”

The situation could even lead to workers pushing back against their bosses when they’re told to return to work and could cite worries of contracting the virus as a reason to stay home on furlough, the Journal noted. Other workers could realize that they could make more money in another job.

The most recent unemployment report showed that an additional 4.4 million Americans filed for benefits, bringing the total number of job losses or furloughs to 26.5 million over a five-week period. Several states are now starting to reopen or are making plans to do so to loosen restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic and get people back to work.


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