Celebrating the labor movement, supporting worker rights, and ensuring economic security are the historic pillars of Labor Day. But instead, this Labor Day — September 6th — marks the day that additional federal unemployment benefits expire. This means that millions of workers who are searching for work as COVID cases once again soar will be left with an average of just $319 per week to support their families — well below what is needed to even make rent in California.
To make sense of what’s at stake and explore how state policymakers can better support California workers in the future, Senior Policy Analyst Alissa Anderson is out with a new series on unemployment in California. The first two pieces:
- Unemployment Explained: This short, yet comprehensive, Q&A helps us understand the role of unemployment benefits in workers’ lives, how the benefits are financed, and explores steps the state can take in recovering from the pandemic and building an equitable California.
- Modernizing Unemployment Funding: California employers only pay taxes on the first $7,000 an employee earns. The result? Compared to all other states, California includes the smallest share — just 12% — of average annual earnings in its taxable wage base, causing California workers to receive inadequate unemployment benefits when they need them most.
Bottom line: To truly value California workers, policymakers must improve the lifeline that is unemployment benefits to better support workers and their families during gaps in employment. And this includes requiring businesses to pay the true costs of unemployment benefits for workers.