Amid a record number of job openings, thousands of Americans in Republican-led states are suing their governors for opting out of enhanced federal unemployment benefits.
On top of their states’ unemployment insurance programs, Congress will continue to pay unemployed Americans $300 in weekly aid through September 6. Citing the fact that businessowners in their states have been unable to fill a record number of open positions, two dozen Republican governors have opted out of the enhanced benefits to encourage their citizens to return to work.
Residents of Indiana, Maryland, and Texas are now filing suit to restore the federal handouts.
As Fox Business reported:
Unemployed residents in Indiana were the first to take legal action in an attempt to block the state’s push to end pandemic unemployment benefit programs; in mid-June, two nonprofit groups sued Gov. Eric Holcomb, arguing that he had “violated the clear mandates of Indiana’s unemployment statute — to secure all rights and benefits available for unemployed individuals.”
Two lawsuits in Maryland argued that Gov. Larry Hogan and state Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson violated their obligations under Maryland law and said that ending the benefits early would hurt families in the state struggling to find work. A Baltimore judge on Saturday ordered the state to continue paying the benefits, a decision that Hogan, a Republican, pledged to appeal.
Similarly, more than 30,000 Texans are suing Gov. Greg Abbott for ending the programs before they are slated to expire, arguing the Republican “exceed his power” in doing so. The groups of unemployed Texans filed a temporary restraining order to postpone the cut-off of benefits while the lawsuit is underway. But unlike judges in Maryland and Indiana, a judge in Texas rejected the request, suggesting the group may not have legal standing to sue.
Many reports point to the enhanced unemployment benefits as a reason for blue states’ lackluster economic rebounds. A study from personal finance company WalletHub revealed that nine of the top 10 performing states for labor market recovery are led by Republican governors. Meanwhile, all of the bottom 10 states are led by Democrats.
In combined state and federal aid, a family with two unemployed parents and two children in some blue states can currently earn well over $100,000. On an annualized basis, families may receive a maximum benefit package of $147,198 in Massachusetts, $138,095 in Washington, $136,403 in New Jersey, and $132,644 in Minnesota.
As a result, persistently high unemployment is largely driven by Democrat-run states. For instance, unemployment statistics for the week ending June 12 revealed that California and Pennsylvania alone produced new jobless claims that exceeded those for the rest of the nation.
Overall, the states recovering most quickly from COVID-19 and the lockdown-induced recession — such as Florida, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and West Virginia — are led by governors who refrained from a heavy-handed approach to lockdowns and rolled back policies implemented during the worst of the economic crisis.