Senate Republicans recently shared details of a $1 trillion stimulus package called the HEALS Act to address the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other provisions, the plan includes changes to unemployment benefits.
In March, Congress approved a $600-per-week increase in unemployment benefits to help Americans who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Under the HEALS Act, states will instead switch to a system in which workers would be paid 70 percent of their prior earnings.
Data from a YouGov poll of more than 7,600 US adults finds that most (60%) Americans say it would be difficult for them to subsist on 70 percent of their typical income.
More than two in five (44%) US adults with an annual household income below $40,000 say that it would be “very difficult” for them to subsist on 70 percent of their usual income. About one-third (32%) of those with an income between $40,000 and $80,000 say the same, while 23 percent of those with an annual household income of more than $80,000 gave a similar answer.
Under the HEALS Act, states have until October to switch over to the new system. Until then, the federal government would provide $200 a week in unemployment benefits, down from the $600 that is currently being provided.
YouGov data finds that 40 percent of Americans support a reduction in emergency unemployment benefits, while 46 percent oppose it.
Republicans (68%) and Independents (45%) are both more likely than Democrats (29%) to say they support the reduction in unemployment benefits. About six in 10 (62%) Democrats are opposed.
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Methodology: The surveys are based on the interviews of 7,614 US adults aged 18 and over. Interviews were conducted online July 27-28, 2020 and results are weighted to be nationally representative.