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Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Jobless Claims Are Highest Ever; House to Take Up $2 Trillion Stimulus

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The $2 trillion economic rescue plan that the Senate passed Wednesday will expand unemployment coverage and take steps to cover the self-employed. On Thursday more than three million people filed for unemployment benefits, the worst ever in a week.

Here are answers to some common questions about what the bill will mean for the swelling ranks of the unemployed, as the coronavirus shuts down whole industries.

Who would be covered by the expanded program?

The new bill would wrap in far more workers than are usually eligible for unemployment benefits, including self-employed people and part-time workers. The bottom-line: Those who are unemployed, partially unemployed or who cannot work for a wide variety of coronavirus-related reasons would be more likely to receive benefits.

How much would I receive?

It depends on your state.

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Benefits would be expanded in a bid to replace the average worker’s paycheck, explained Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a public policy research group. The average worker earns about $1,000 a week, and unemployment benefits often replace roughly 40 to 45 percent of that. The expansion would pay an extra amount to fill the gap.

Under the plan, eligible workers would get an extra $600 per week on top of their state benefit. But some states are more generous than others. According to the Century Foundation, the maximum weekly benefit in Alabama is $265, but it’s $450 in California and $681 in New Jersey.

So let’s say a worker was making $1,100 per week in New York; she’d be eligible for the maximum state unemployment benefit of $435 per week. Under the new program, she gets an additional $600 of federal pandemic unemployment compensation, for a total of $1,035, or nearly all of her original paycheck.

Are gig workers, freelancers and independent contractors covered in the bill?

Yes, self-employed people would be newly eligible for unemployment benefits.



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