By Guy Page
With Vermont’s unemployment rate below three percent and employers expressing concern about finding workers, new and existing combined state and federal cash benefits total about $52,000/year.
Beginning July 1, the federal government will give every Vermont household earning less than $150,000 between $250 and $300 per child per month.
According to an explanation of the new benefit provided by Rep. Dave Yacovone (D-Morristown) in the May 20 News and Citizen, the benefit will not be counted as income. It will not reduce other federal food and childcare subsidies.
The new federal program provides $300 per child under age six, and $250 for children ages 6-18. According to U.S. Census figures, there are 85,412 children ages 6-18, and 29,327 six and under. The average Vermont household has 1.7 children, according to an Insider report. The program will add about $30 million federal dollars monthly into Vermont homes and the Vermont economy.
The new federal child tax credit will last for at least a year. Congress will then determine whether to extend it.
The benefit will go to all households with children – including those with adults who are already receiving the Vermont unemployment insurance benefit (maximum of $533/week at present) and the federal uninsurance benefit ($300, due to expire Sept. 1). “The individuals [receiving the new credit] would remain eligible for unemployment insurance regardless of whether they receive the tax credit,” Jason Maulacci, press secretary for Gov. Phil Scott, told Vermont Daily today. “And the UI benefits will not be adjusted due to receiving the federal tax credit.”
Also, the State of Vermont provides a separate, $50/month child credit, Yacavone said. Taken together these monthly cash benefits total as much as an estimated $1000/week, or $52,000/year:
- $533 top payout for state unemployment – per person
- $300 federal unemployment – per person
- $160 (estimated avg. weekly amount per household for combined federal/state child credit)
Both Yacovone and the Scott administration note employers’ concern about finding workers due to the ongoing unemployment payments.
“Some employers are angry because they believe the unemployed have no incentive to go to work, given the federal $300 weekly benefit on top of their regular unemployment,” Yacovone said. On the other hand, Yacovone said, many unemployed people believe wages are too low, and that childcare is difficult to find and expensive. Service industry workers remain concerned about catching Covid, he said.
“Employers have been struggling to find workers and we know there are thousands of jobs available across the state, offering very competitive wages,” Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington said in April, after the work-search requirement was reinstituted. “With over 20,000 individuals collecting regular unemployment, we are hopeful that reinstating the work search will encourage claimants to take advantage of the job opportunities available in Vermont.”
Vermont’s April 2021 unemployment rate was 2.9%, compared to 6.1% nationwide.