Lower unemployment benefits for fewer people

Lower unemployment benefits for fewer people

As congressional Republicans continue to stall on renewing the $600 weekly unemployment benefits that kept hundreds of thousands of Louisiana families financially afloat through the first months of the pandemic, some temporary help is on the way. But while many laid-off workers in Louisianans will soon receive an extra $300 per week – half of what they received before CARES Act benefits expired at the end of July – an estimated 87,000 workers will see no additional help until Congress acts. Nola.com | The Baton Rouge Advocate’s Sam Karlin has the story:

Currently, jobless workers are only receiving the state unemployment benefits normally paid to those who are without work. Louisiana provides among the most meager benefits in the country, only awarding a maximum of $247 a week. About 417,000 people will qualify for the $300 weekly benefit, which is half the boosted pandemic benefit they were receiving until this month. Congress has been unable to reach a deal on a new round of payments.


Court may decide Louisiana’s November election plan
Covid-19 continues to disrupt society’s normal functions, including voting. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin recently released his emergency plan for the November and December elections, rolling back some of the changes made this summer which made it easier and more accessible for people to vote by mail. Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday that he won’t sign Ardoin’s plan, calling it “woefully inadequate.” That means courts will likely decide how Louisianans will cast their fall ballots. Wesley Muller of the Louisiana Illuminator has more on what happens with no agreement on the emergency plan:  

Ardoin’s proposed plan, which he submitted to state legislators on Monday, makes very few accommodations for residents to vote by mail and even requires COVID-19 patients to predict if they “expect to be hospitalized on election day” in order to request an absentee mail ballot. Edwards said he doesn’t expect Ardoin will change the proposal, so if the legislature approves the plan, the fate of election day may be left to the courts to decide as Ardoin’s proposal will likely draw lawsuits. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has already sued the state of Louisiana — naming the governor and secretary of state as defendants. That suit was filed before Ardoin announced his plan Monday. Plaintiffs include Louisiana voters who have significant health challenges or are caring for people who have health challenges.


Empowering workers is key to a safe and successful reopening
Frontline workers typically face low pay, limited benefits and working conditions that often prioritize profits over people. Investing in our workers by giving them a seat at the table, and reinforcing their right to unionize, will not only improve public health but also bring racial justice to the workers who have risked their lives to keep businesses open. Sharon Block and Rachel Korberg explain in Fortune why empowering frontline workers is important to safe economic reopening:

 MIT research has shown that companies with empowered frontline staff who have trusting, collaborative relationships with management are better at quickly identifying challenges and developing and implementing new solutions. This makes intuitive sense—workers know better than anyone how to do their jobs best, what risks they face, and how to solve problems in the workplace. In these types of high-trust, high-opportunity workplaces, workers may be more likely to flag unsafe conditions and propose fixes because they have received thorough training, feel valued, have open communication with management, and don’t fear retribution. 


Public colleges should enroll more displaced workers
The Covid-19 pandemic will displace millions of workers, many of whom will turn to higher education to get retrained for a new career. But a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that only 1 in 100 displaced workers enrolls in a public college. Madeline St. Amour writes in Inside Higher Ed about how higher education can do more to reach unemployed workers looking for additional training during the pandemic:  

Most of the workers who did enroll in public colleges worked in manufacturing prior to losing their jobs, the study found, which makes sense given that manufacturing workers may have a harder time finding employment without new skills, (Judith) Scott-Clayton (of the Columbia Teachers College) said. Another concerning point is that only 29 percent of the workers who did enroll ended up graduating with a degree. Emily Bouck West, deputy executive director at Higher Learning Advocates, said colleges need to provide more support to students to bolster degree attainment.


Number of the Day
$21.3 million – The average annual value of a typical CEO compensation package in 2019 at the 350 largest U.S. firms. The average CEO now earns 320 times as much as a typical worker (Source: Economic Policy Institute)