Biden's Labor Department just said people on unemployment could get a one-time check from states after benefits expire on Labor Day

A man in a red shirt and hat and a blue face mask holds up a cardboard sign that says "$600."
Protesters rally to demand economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic in New York City on August 5, 2020. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
  • Federal unemployment benefits will end in a little over a week.

  • Millions of workers are set to lose all their benefits, and more would lose a chunk of their income.

  • But the Labor Department said states could give one-off relief payments to people affected.

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On Thursday, Insider obtained guidance from the Department of Labor on how states could renew federal unemployment aid that's set to expire for millions of Americans in 11 days. If they wanted to, states could issue periodic or one-time relief payments to workers currently on unemployment.

As the pandemic surges and the economy struggles to stay open, Congress and the Biden administration are allowing benefits to expire. The left-leaning Century Foundation projected that 7.5 million workers would lose all their benefits in September, and the People's Policy Project estimated that 20 million workers would experience sharp cuts to their income.

Though the Biden administration recently paved the way for states to extend jobless aid on their own using leftover money from the March stimulus law, it doesn't appear likely that many will do so - several have cited dwindling federal funding and the need for further congressional action.

Read more: How to score one of the federal government's most challenging career opportunities. (Strong stomach required.)

Any relief from states is likely to be limited. Half have already designated the bulk of their federal relief money for purposes like ensuring schools and colleges can educate virtually, alleviating homelessness, or strengthening mental-health resources, said Ed Lazere, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In addition, 26 mostly GOP-led states ended some benefit programs well before their scheduled end on September 6.

Relief would largely be contingent on how big of a financial cushion states have, even as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations driven by the Delta variant pile up, particularly in the South.

But there's already at least one example of states putting those stimulus funds toward checks.

Millions of California residents are set to get direct payments partially subsidized by the American Rescue Plan. As Insider's Yelena Dzhanova reported, the state recently enacted a $100 billion recovery package whose surplus, it said, is "fueled by a resurgent economy, a surge in state revenues and additional federal recovery funds." Under that package, according to the state, about two-thirds of Californians qualify for a $600 stimulus check, and families with kids who qualify would get an extra $500.

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