WORKERS fear losing their unemployment payments if they do not go back to work when the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.
Select states around the United States are starting to ease the Covid-19 stay-at-home measures as Donald Trump calls for a reopening of the economy.
The coronavirus has ravaged a formerly booming US economy that had been Trump’s main selling point for his re-election campaign in November.
Dismal new economic numbers lay bare the damage caused by the pandemic, which has shut down much of the country.
The US economy shrank by nearly 5 per cent in the first quarter of the year as more than 26million workers find themselves jobless.
Facing a Great Depression style slump, Trump said he wanted to see a return soon to full-capacity restaurants, sports stadiums — and his rallies — with or without a vaccine.
He told business leaders at the White House: "We want it to be the way it was.
"We can’t have somebody with half a restaurant.
"That’s not going to pay the rent."
Yet the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread — killing nearly 62,000 Americans so far with no sign of abating.
And with workers fearful of catching the virus, some states are warning they will lose their unemployment benefits if they do not go back to work, The Intellectualist reports.
We want it to be the way it was
Iowa is currently gearing up to partially reopen tomorrow.
And Governor Kim Reynolds has told furloughed workers they will not gain any unemployment benefits if they refuse to go back.
She said: "If you’re an employer and you offer to bring your employee back to work and they decide not to, that’s a voluntary quit.
"Herefore, they would not be eligible for unemployment money."
The state will start the process of lifting social distancing restrictions across 77 of its 99 counties.
This will see restaurants, fitness centers, malls, libraries, and other businesses opening up.
Texas governor Greg Abbott also recently revealed businesses can reopen soon.
And staff choosing not to return to work in Texas, regardless of whether they are at risk, would also become ineligible for unemployment benefits.
Political analyst Richard Stengel said: "This is the worst kind of Catch-22 that risks workers' lives to support management.
"Hope voters will remember in November."
But many workers might be forgiven to stay away from work.
This is because an unintended and unexpected consequence of Trump's multi-trillion dollar stimulus package is that some workers are reluctant to go back after being furloughed.
The federal government — via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) — gives an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits.
This is on top of what the states already pay, which is in the range of $200 to $300 per week.
Therefore someone could conceivably earn $1,000 per week on unemployment, depending upon which state he or she resides in.
Also, Americans, earning less than $75,000 in 2019, received a one-time check in the post for $1,200 and $500 for each child under 17 years of age.
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