REPORT: Cuts to Pandemic Unemployment Compensation would harm 182,000 Mainers

The COVID-19 relief plan released by US Senate Republicans on July 27 would slash Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) by $400 per week, affecting approximately 182,000 Mainers — including 46,000 children — who are relying on unemployment benefits to meet their basic needs, according to new analysis by MECEP.

Congress created FPUC in March as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES ACT) in March. The program provides an extra $600 to laid-off workers, who have used those funds to pay for food, housing, childcare, and other basic needs. In addition to helping families keep up with expenses during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis, FPUC is supporting the equivalent of 18,000 jobs in Maine.

The $600 boost to unemployment, along with other provisions that strengthened Unemployment Insurance during the crisis, will expire on July 31 unless Congress moves quickly to extend them.

But a COVID-19 relief plan unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday would slash the benefit by two-thirds — a reduction in income that would leave those 182,000 Mainers in a state of precarity.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise nationally and tens of thousands of Mainers dealing with unemployment, struggling to put food on the table, and falling behind on rent, Congress should reject the Senate Republicans’ cuts to unemployment benefits and instead extend the provisions of the CARES Act for as long as it takes for the economy to recover.

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