Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

San Diegans Making More On Unemployment Weigh Return To Work

Restaurant workers in Old Town San Diego wear facial coverings due to COVID-19 restrictions in this undated photo.
Bennett Lacy
Restaurant workers in Old Town San Diego wear facial coverings due to COVID-19 restrictions in this undated photo.
The federal CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, provided jobless benefits of $600 per week to some workers who lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Some workers receiving both state and federal benefits are making more income than when they were working.

Governor Gavin Newsom said 70% of California's retailers and manufacturers have been given the all-clear for a modified re-opening.

This is a mixed blessing for some low-wage workers, like those in restaurants, retail, hospitality and light manufacturing,

Advertisement

The federal CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, provided jobless benefits of $600 per week to some workers who lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Some workers receiving both state and federal benefits are making more income than when they were working.

The additional federal benefit, equivalent to a full-time job at $15 per hour, is on top of state unemployment benefits, which average about $350 per week. In San Diego, the current minimum wage is $13 per hour.

Related: Business Report: Worst Unemployment Rate Since Great Depression

This round of enhanced federal benefits lasts until July 2020. Workers who refuse to go back to work until after the federal benefit expires are taking a risk. If they turn down their old job to continue to collect benefits, they could be forced to make restitution, incur a 30% penalty and face limitations on filing for unemployment in the future.

Phillip Molnar, business reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Phil Blair, owner and CEO of the staffing firm Manpower of San Diego, joined KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday to discuss the complications of returning to work.