HEALS Act Falls Short of Providing Necessary Unemployment Insurance

August 5, 2020 | New York

The HEALS Act – the Senate GOP’s proposed Relief Package – does not provide any extensions of the existing unemployment insurance (UI) provisions made by the CARES Act. The HEALS Act fails to support families and children in New York.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented amount of unemployment, especially in New York State. Between March 14 and July 18, 3,210,701 New Yorkers filed for unemployment insurance, and 1,224,004 New Yorkers filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a federal program created as part of the CARES Act to provide financial assistance to people unable to work due to the pandemic and who are not eligible for regular unemployment.

New Yorkers in every county are suffering from unemployment. The number of unemployment insurance claims between March and July in 2020 is astronomically higher than in the previous year. New York City reported the highest increase in the state, 1,147% increase, in unemployment insurance claims.

Although New Yorkers are suffering from unprecedented levels of unemployment, the HEALS Act:

The expiration of the weekly $600 PUA will have devastating effects on New Yorkers who are struggling to provide for themselves amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to forcing New Yorkers to survive with the absence of the PUA money, it is predicted that 467,968 jobs will be lost in New York if the PUA does not continue, making the unemployment issue more severe.

On the other hand, the HEROES Act:

  • Extends the PUA of $600 per week through January 31, 2021
  • Provides interest-free loans to states through January 31, 2021
  • Includes $15 million for federal administration and $925 million to help states process UI claims 

The HEALS Act takes away money that is crucially needed by New Yorkers suffering from unemployment. By not extending the PUA, the HEALS Act will lead to a further economic downturn, hurting New York families and children.