Public Assets Institute > Policy Areas > Family Economic Security > More workers are getting adequate unemployment benefits

More workers are getting adequate unemployment benefits

One goal of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the $2 trillion federal stimulus law, is to encourage workers to stay home by providing them enough cash for their families to live on. For many Vermont workers, the policy succeeds.

State unemployment benefits replace 58 percent of a worker’s wages and are capped at $513 a week. The feds will provide $600 a week on top of state benefits for unemployed workers through July 31.

In total, a Vermont full-time minimum wage worker would receive just over $850 a week; a worker earning the average weekly wage would get a little less than $1,100 in state and federal benefits. To meet the basic needs of a Vermont family of four, two adults each need to earn $815 to $900 a week, according to the Joint Fiscal Office.

Relaxed rules
In a typical three-month period, fewer than half of unemployed Vermonters get jobless benefits. People who are self-employed, for example, do not normally qualify. But many will under the federal stimulus bill. The Scott administration also has relaxed some state rules so people can qualify for unemployment compensation if they’re otherwise able to work but need to care for a family member due to the pandemic.

Expansion of the unemployment insurance program will still leave some people without economic protections, particularly undocumented workers. The federal bill does include direct payments to most families, and it offers financial assistance to businesses that retain workers through the crisis. Some specifics have been published, but it will become clearer in the coming weeks which families and individuals still need assistance.

pdficonPDF Version