Should The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program End?
The year is 2020, and it's been a wild ride so far and we still have several months before the new year. One of the many issues flooding the media has been the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA), which ended July 31st. According to CBS, some states ended it a week earlier.
President Trump extended the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits as one of four executive orders signed over the weekend. The extra benefit amount was reduced from $600 to $400.
According to USAToday, other executive orders signed focused on areas such as deferring student loan payments, protecting renters against eviction, and payroll tax cuts.
As of August 7, 2020, the PUA program, among other things are still being negotiated. It comes down to three options:
1. Extend the extra $600 per week
2. Reduce the PUA benefits
3. End the PUA benefits
Some parties, including President Trump, has made statements towards extending the full $600 benefit. Others have suggested at least reducing it, if not fully eliminate it.
What If The PUA Benefits End?
This is the biggest concern among millions of Americans right now - "What will we do?". Many are claiming they face evictions if they end the extra $600, others are claiming they won't be able to eat, etc.
This may be true, but the real question should be 'why'? Why will so many people be facing these struggles soon as this extra money stops?
Do you think the PUA Program should end?
The Financial Breakdown
Let's take a moment and break it down a little. Only those making less than $75,000/yr got the full $1,200 stimulus.
However, anybody who qualified for unemployment has been receiving an additional $600/week. That is $2,400 per month.
Weekly PUA Benefits
Total Per Month
133 (Min. in AR)
450 (Max in AR)
Jan 27th - July 31st
$19,058 - $27,300
Regular Unemployment Insurance in Arkansas ranges between $133 to $450 per week. That is $532 - $1,800 per month before the additional PUA benefits of $2,400 per month.
The PUA Benefits took a while to get started but backdated to January 27th. That was up to 26 weeks of benefits coming to $19,059 to $27,300.
If we break that down by 40hrs per week, we get the following:
Divided by 26 Weeks
Divided by 40 Hours
$18.33 / HR
$26.25 / HR
PUA Benefits vs Minimum Hourly Wages
Arkansas just increased its minimum wage to $10/hr on January 1st, 2020. Many jobs, including the factory work, only start out at $11 - $13/hr.
The minimum weekly benefit amount with PUA benefits is almost double the minimum wage for my state (and many others). I can only assume those who make more receive more from unemployment, maxing out at an average of $26.25/hr on unemployment.
Why The Struggle?
By no means am I wealthy, but I have to ask the question, why the struggle? If you have been receiving unemployment with PUA benefits, like myself - chances are you have been receiving more than you're usual to bring home pay.
Saving Could Be Survival
It's natural wanting to spend money on things when you come into more than usual. But, with the current situation and knowing the PUA benefits were temporary meant plan ahead.
- The first thing to do was to pay bills, of course. If your behind, get caught up, etc.
- The second step, put any extra into a checking/savings account, or your preferred method of saving.
- Third, only dip into the savings to cover essentials once the PUA ends (bills, food, etc). Determine how to make it stretch if needed.
In conclusion, Americans have received a ton of extra money for the past several months. I am curious to see what they decide on the PUA benefits. I know some people likely need extra help right now, especially in hot spots. But, I also believe people should have thought ahead and saves some of each PUA check to creating at least a 1-month safety net to cover bills and food.
Anyone that usually brings home more than the unemployment benefits has paid out the past 6 months should have been able to create the recommended 3 - 6-month safety net for situations like this.