Even with the new federal aid for the unemployed in last month’s legislation, there are continuing concerns about the processing of payments — a task left to the states — after problems with the initial round of emergency benefits last spring.
“States are extra cautious now to get as much guidance as possible,” said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit workers’ rights group. But she said some states, including New York, seemed better equipped to move quickly this time, taking an “ask questions later” approach.
She said she expected that by next week most states would have “a significant piece” of their program up and running, if not all of the components.
In addition to the $300 weekly supplement and the short-term renewal of benefits for gig workers and the self-employed, the latest round of federal aid renewed Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, a program for those whose state benefits have run out.
The disparate nature of state unemployment programs, some of which provide as little as 12 weeks of benefits in normal times, has made them a target for Democrats. Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and the incoming chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has said he will press for an overhaul of the nation’s unemployment benefits system.
As part of his economic recovery plan, Mr. Biden will seek congressional approval of an automatic renewal of federal unemployment benefits and other aid until the jobless rate falls to a given level. That would alleviate the need for repeated legislative action in times of crisis.
In the meantime, as the coronavirus pummels the service sector, employers are likely to cut more jobs in the weeks ahead. Some struggling businesses may not survive.