$600 unemployment boost dispute: What could take its place?

More than 19 million people are receiving unemployment benefits

Expanded unemployment benefits implemented as part of the multitrillion-dollar stimulus package are set to expire at the end of this month – and while lawmakers appear to agree that supporting out-of-work Americans is a priority, there is disagreement about the best way to do so.

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Under the CARES Act, eligible Americans who are out of work entirely or underemployed because of reasons related to coronavirus can receive an additional $600 a week for up to four months.

While some Democrats want to extend the measure, Republicans have argued the generous unemployment package discourages workers from seeking new employment.

Studies have shown that benefits for 68 percent of workers would exceed earnings.

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More than 50 million people have filed new jobless claims since mid-March. The unemployment rate in June was 11.1 percent – though the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that worker misclassification means it could be as much as 1 percentage point higher.

As of June 20, the number of people receiving unemployment benefits was nearly 19.3 million.

If lawmakers don’t continue the extra $600 in benefits, here are some other options they might consider.

A lower benefit

One seemingly obvious idea lawmakers may consider is an unemployment expansion of less than $600, Brian Marks, senior lecturer at the Pompea College of Business at the University of New Haven, told FOX Business. That way workers could receive extra support without earning more than they might while employed.

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Back-to-work bonus

The Trump administration has backed what it calls a “back to work bonus” as an alternative, which would provide an incentive for individuals to reenter the marketplace.

While it is unclear exactly what form this type of bonus would take, Republican Sen. Rob Portman has proposed a temporary $450 weekly bonus for unemployed workers returning to work, paid on top of their wages.

Texas Republican Kevin Brady has proposed giving workers two $600 payments if they find a job.

Company-provided incentives

Employers may begin giving employees bonuses or incentives to lure them back to the workplace, Dr. Anthony Harris, WorkCare’s chief innovation officer and medical director, told FOX Business.

For example, a business may reward workers for consecutive days in attendance, Marks said, or they could create health care-related incentives.

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Incentives to hire

The federal government could provide additional incentives for companies to hire. As previously reported by FOX Business, a number of economic factors may leave business owners hesitant to ramp up capacity too quickly.

In order to combat that conservative behavior, Marks said the federal government could provide grants – like it has done with the forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans – centered on hiring metrics.

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