Trump's executive order is designed to give an extra $400 in weekly unemployment, but one million Americans might not qualify

Trump's executive order is designed to give an extra $400 in weekly unemployment, but one million Americans might not qualify
President Donald Trump signs executive orders extending coronavirus economic relief, during a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey.Photo by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
  • President Trump signed four executive orders on Saturday, including a $400 per week unemployment benefits boost.
  • However, the order requires that recipients must already be receiving $100 a week in state benefits.
  • That eligibility rule may mean that over 1 million Americans are left out, according to a labor economist who spoke to CNBC.
  • After states complained they could not afford the new payments ordered by the White House, the figure was reduced to $300.

More than 1 million Americans may be ineligible for President Donald Trump's $300 weekly unemployment benefit boost, according to CNBC, even after the amount was slashed by $100.

The executive action, signed on Saturday to replace the expired $600 per week federal payments, says recipients must already be receiving $100 per week in state benefits in order to qualify for the additional funds.

Elizabeth Forsyth, a labor economist at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told CNBC that women, part-time workers, and other low-wage workers likely make up the majority of Americans missing out on that extra benefits. Forsyth also said that the 1 million figure was an estimate and the impact could be even higher.
Unemployed Americans who are receiving federal, rather than state, unemployment aid may also fail to qualify, Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, told CNBC.

In July, 13 million people were enrolled in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, according to the Department of Labor. Since that program is federally funded, it doesn't count towards Trump's $100 a week state minimum. More than 16 million Americans remained unemployed in July, according to the latest monthly jobs report.

President Trump's executive action on Saturday comes as Congress's efforts to negotiate another economic relief package remain stalled. Over the past weeks, Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have clashed over the boost to federal unemployment benefits. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, insisted on continued $600 weekly payments, but Republicans countered that the sum discouraged workers from returning to their jobs. The parties also remain split on funding for testing and tracing, school safety, and housing security.

"My administration will provide immediate and vital relief to Americans struggling in this difficult time," Trump said in a Saturday press conference at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

But since the announcement, issues have plagued the plan. Even for those who do qualify, it's unlikely that they'll see a full $400 coming their way soon. On Tuesday, a top White House official said that they would "modify" the plan, cutting the benefit from $400 to $300 per week. Originally, the executive order stipulated that states foot 25% of the bill for the boost. But cash-strapped states like Pennsylvania to Kentucky said they couldn't afford to chip in, forcing the White House to reduce the benefit payments.

Additionally, timing has been called into question. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the plan could be executed "within the next week or two." But governors and experts alike say that that setting up the initiative will take much longer, since they are building a benefit system from the ground up.

"It's absolutely 100% impossible states will have this up in a couple of weeks," Evermore, the National Employment Law Project lawyer, told Business Insider in a prior interview.

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