When crisis and calamity take jobs away, the market economy alone cannot provide working people the help they need to make ends meet. That is where the Texas Unemployment Insurance system comes in. While the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, overwhelming the Texas Workforce Commission’s ability to serve applicants on a timely basis, it has also exposed structural weaknesses in the system. The millions of workers who lost jobs through layoffs or furloughs have had extraordinary difficulty applying for and accessing benefits. To modernize a critical earned benefit and better serve the needs of Texans, the Texas AFL-CIO and Every Texan (formerly known as the Center for Public Policy Priorities) propose the following reforms.
In this pivotal moment, DC policymakers must spend federal rescue funds in a timely way, with a laser focus on addressing the racial inequities that have excluded Black and brown communities from economic gains and left them more vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, federal policymakers excluded certain residents—including immigrants who are undocumented and workers in the informal cash economy—from federal relief that provides vital cash assistance to those who have lost income. Intentional investment is needed from DC policymakers to right this unfair exclusion and pursue an equitable and inclusive future for these workers.
Our improving job numbers in Arkansas are due in part to the effect that $600-per-week unemployment supplements have had as they circulated through our economy. Losing them now would be disastrous.