Center for American Progress

RELEASE: You Can’t Afford to Live Anywhere in the United States Solely on Unemployment Insurance
Press Release

RELEASE: You Can’t Afford to Live Anywhere in the United States Solely on Unemployment Insurance

Washington, D.C.— A new analysis from the Center for American Progress finds that there is no county, parish, borough, census area, or city in the United States where state unemployment benefits alone can cover a set of very modest monthly expenses.

The analysis includes an interactive feature where users can choose any state and county in the United States and see the shortfall between average unemployment insurance benefits in their area under various plans and a modest budget for families in that county.

The analysis looks at three scenarios for unemployment insurance benefits policies: the $600-per-week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) extension passed by the House as part of the HEROES Act in May; the $300-per-week boost to unemployment benefits proposed by Senate Republicans and enacted for only about five weeks by President Donald Trump’s August memorandum; and the state benefits-only scenario, which most people have been living with since the CARES Act FPUC expired at the end of July.

The analysis finds that a family consisting of one adult and one child would face a budget shortfall under all three scenarios. The median monthly shortfall under the $600 FPUC HEROES extension is $387 a month, while the median budget shortfall jumps to $1,587 under the Senate Republicans’ proposal, and $2,787 under the current state benefits-only scenario.

“Since the COVID-19 crisis began this spring, tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own—they’re now relying on unemployment insurance to live,” said Lily Roberts, director of economic mobility at the Center for American Progress. “Our analysis shows how meager unemployment benefits truly are. There’s no place in the country where a single parent and child can afford to live on state unemployment insurance alone, and they’ll be more than a thousand dollars in the red each month in 94 percent of counties under the Senate Republican plan. Their proposal of supplementing state benefits with only $300 is very clearly insufficient, and leaving folks to rely only on state benefits is even worse. The implications of our analysis are clear: Senate Republicans’ inability to put forth an adequate relief bill will lead to millions of Americans struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads, or adequately care for their families.”

See the data interactive and read the accompanying analysis: “You Can’t Afford to Live Anywhere in the United States Solely on Unemployment Insurance” by Lily Roberts and Justin Schweitzer

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at [email protected].