Federal Jobless Benefits to Cost $53B Less Than Expected

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That’s how much the federal government is estimated to save on its latest extension of pandemic unemployment insurance programs now that many states have cut off certain benefits early and the trajectory for unemployment is improving.

New budget projections from the Congressional Budget Office show the latest extension, authorized by the American Rescue Plan in March, will cost the federal government $152 billion, $53 billion less than the CBO anticipated in March, just after its approval. The extension through Sept. 6 included an extra $300 per week for everyone receiving benefits and continued the pandemic-era expansion on who could receive unemployment insurance and for how long.

Most Republican-governed states decided to leave the federal programs before September, blaming the extra money for deterring people from taking work and fueling a record number of job openings. That development, plus an improved forecast for the economy and unemployment rate, mean fewer people will use the expanded benefits, lowering the overall cost, the CBO said Friday.

Most of the $152 billion cost will be accounted for in the 2021 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, with $8 billion being reflected in 2022 because the CBO expects it to take time for states to verify eligibility and adjudicate claims.

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