As state lawmakers this month consider the creation of a fund to aid workers who do have not qualified for federal stimulus aid and other benefits during the pandemic, a progressive think tank in a new report found $3.5 billion is needed to provide support.
The report by the Fiscal Policy Institute to be released on Thursday comes as state lawmakers have proposed $2.1 billion in benefits for undocumented workers and people who have left incarceration during the pandemic.
“The need is urgent,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, director of the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative. “Unemployment insurance has been a life-saver to so many New Yorkers. This would extend that same help to people who have been left out of federal aid.”
Setting aside $3.5 billion would match the minimum benefits other workers have received while also continuing aid through the rest of the year.
The report pointed to the need for $3.4 billion in total benefits as well as $110 million needed for administration of the program and outreached — a provision that is included in the Assembly's budget plan.
The move would affect about 274,000 workers in New York. Undocumented workers are not included in the federal unemployment system, leaving many workers from receiving benefits if they lost their jobs.
The pandemic has affected jobs in the service and hospitality sectors, including lower-income workers.
The state's unemployment rate at the start of the year remained above 8%, higher than the national average, after spiking a year ago when the pandemic began.