The $2 trillion stimulus bill passed by lawmakers on Wednesday included a historic expansion of unemployment  insurance. The federal government will give jobless workers and extra $600 a week on top of their states’ benefits for four months. 

“It has unemployment insurance on steroids,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday. “But, and most importantly, the federal government will pay your salary, your full salary for now four months.” 


Although the extra money doesn’t make up for the wages being lost during the coronavirus pandemic, it significantly adds on to current state benefits that range anywhere between $200 and $550 weekly. 

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The unemployment insurance is estimated to cost about $250 billion and comes as the coronavirus pandemic leaves immense dents in the national economy. More than 3 million people have filed for first-time jobless benefits last week as governors across the country ask non-essential workers to stay home. 

“The generosity of this benefit is unprecedented,” said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. “Because this situation is so different, we have to break all the rules.”

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