A shortsighted job-search requirement

A shortsighted job-search requirement

More than 450,000 jobless Louisianans recently lost their main source of income – the $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits that expired in late July and remains in limbo due to the political stalemate in Washington. Last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards added insult to economic injury by reinstating a requirement that people apply for at least three jobs per week in order to keep collecting the state’s meager unemployment benefits. A Nola.com | Baton Rouge Advocate editorial explains why this is the wrong approach: 

The governor’s rule — and he said there was no law or regulation requiring him to reimpose it — will result in some workers failing to fill out their forms correctly and losing unemployment benefits. That will save the state next to nothing, but also make it administratively more difficult for the worker to get back on the rolls the next week, as the worker inevitably will.

Unable to strike a deal with Congress, President Donald Trump over the weekend issued a legally dubious executive order that seeks to redirect $44 billion set aside for disaster relief into a new, temporary $400 per week unemployment benefit. To draw down the money, states would have to put up 25% of the cost, or $100 per week for each worker, which would seem difficult-to-impossible in Louisiana, where the state’s unemployment trust fund is rapidly going broke. The Washington Post attempts to sort through the confusion: 

Even if state governments sign onto the program, the jobless benefits might be out of reach for Americans in greatest need: Only out-of-work Americans receiving more than $100 a week in state unemployment insurance are eligible for the federal aid. That means those at the bottom of the income distribution — particularly workers who rely on tips and the self-employed — could see no additional federal benefit at all, said Andy Stettner, an unemployment insurance expert at the Century Foundation.


The coming eviction crisis
An estimated 20% of American households are in danger of not being able to pay their rent. Federal unemployment aid has expired, and so have federal and state moratoriums on evictions. The result is that millions of people may soon be forced to leave their homes and neighborhoods, which will have devastating – and long-lasting – effects on families, and especially children. The New York Times’ Binyamin Applebaum, who covered the 2008 housing crisis for the paper, says the worst-case scenarios don’t have to happen: 

The federal government has the power to avert a crisis by imposing a moratorium on tenant evictions in each state through the end of the year. That would provide enough time to create a program of federal aid for people who can’t afford to pay rent. The most direct approach would be to give federal housing vouchers to every needy family. (The apparent simplicity of proposals for rent forgiveness is misleading. That would simply move problems up the food chain. Roughly half of apartments are owned by small landlords, many of whom face foreclosure if they can’t pay their own mortgages. That, too, would lead to tenant evictions.)


Trump’s plan to hijack the Census
President Donald Trump’s plan to cut short the decennial Census count by a month will result in a massive undercounting of Black and Latinx people throughout America, which in turn will lead to a loss of federal funding in communities where it is most needed. The Washington Post’s Jose A. Del Real and Fredrick Kunkle report:  

The census represents an important fault line in the battle over structural racism and equity, with high stakes. It dictates the allocation of federal dollars and influences everything from infrastructure investments to education programs like free and reduced lunch to public health-care spending. The data is also used when deciding the boundaries of legislative districts.

Brookings’ William H. Frey adds that Trump’s ongoing efforts to remove undocumented immigrants from the official national headcount could skew the allocation of congressional seats in ways that benefit the president’s party for years to come. 

Demographers Amanda K. Baumle and Dudley L. Poston, Jr. estimate that if Trump were to succeed in subtracting undocumented immigrants from congressional reapportionment, the racially diverse states of Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas would each lose one House seat, while Alabama, Minnesota, Montana, and Ohio would gain seats. While three of the states that would lose a seat voted for Trump in 2016, each of those is poised to continue diversifying and could trend Democratic in 2020 or beyond.


Some nursing home workers refuse to be tested
Louisiana’s nursing homes, filled with some of the most vulnerable members of our communities, have been the epicenter of the state’s coronavirus outbreak. Yet about 700 nursing home workers – about 2% of the industry workforce – have refused to be tested for Covid-19. The AP’s Melinda Deslatte reports

Louisiana announced in mid-June that it had toughened its coronavirus testing requirements for nursing homes, after some facilities didn’t follow earlier voluntary testing standards recommended by the state. Nursing homes that don’t follow the testing policy face the risk of restrictions on admitting new patients, civil penalties or withholding of Medicaid payments.


Number of the Day
1,392 – Number of “excess” deaths in Louisiana from March 15 through July 18 not attributable to Covid-19, which suggests that the effect of the coronavirus pandemic is even bigger than the official death toll (Source: New York Times via Nola.com)