The U.S. payrolls count was probably reduced slightly in the year through March, a period the pandemic made extremely volatile for both the labor market and the economy.

The number of workers on payrolls will probably be revised down by 166,000 during the period, according to the Labor Department’s preliminary benchmark projections issued Wednesday. The final revisions are due next year.  

The revision period captures some of the wildest swings in the labor market in the nation’s history -- the year through March included both the record monthly payrolls decline in April 2020 and an unprecedented advance a few months later.

First, pandemic-driven shutdowns cast millions of people out of work within a matter of weeks. Then, the loosening of those government restrictions and the broader reopening of the economy led to a hiring snapback. As of the July jobs report, the number of people on payrolls is down 5.7 million from its pre-pandemic peak in February of last year.

The Labor Department revised down its payrolls count in leisure and hospitality -- an industry that’s taken longer to recover from the coronavirus pandemic -- by 597,000 for the period. Government employment was revised up by 255,000.

The final annual benchmark revisions to payrolls will be issued with the January employment data released in February 2022. The Labor Department uses records from state jobless benefit tax records to benchmark its employment data.

Federal unemployment benefits officially expire on Labor Day — but state administrative rules require that aid end a few days earlier than some workers may anticipate.

All states pay weekly benefits according to a schedule that ends on a Saturday or Sunday. However, the American Rescue Plan offered aid to Sept. 6, which is a Monday. Therefore, the last payable week of benefits will be the one ending Sept. 4 or 5, depending on the state.

Workers may have assumed they’d be able to collect benefits the week of Sept. 6, too, given the official Labor Day cutoff.

“The federal government does not allow benefit payments to be made for weeks of unemployment after Sept, 4, even if you have a balance left on your claim at that time,” according to California’s Employment Development Department.

The so-called benefits cliff will impact more than 11 million people, who are poised to lose aid entirely or see a smaller check each week, according to estimates from the Century Foundation.

Federal lawmakers passed legislation twice in the past year to avert a benefits cliff, so another extension seems unlikely.

“I don’t think there’s any appetite for that,” said Wayne Vroman, a labor economist at the Urban Institute. “I think given the strength of the [economic] recovery and the labor market recovery, there’s basically no possibility of that happening.”

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If Congress doesn’t act, federal benefits will cease for the self-employed, gig workers, long-term unemployed, and others typically ineligible for state benefits. A $300 weekly benefit supplement will also end.

Twenty-six states ended federal benefits in June or July, before their Labor Day cutoff.

The state governors, primarily Republican, cited labor shortages, claiming enhanced benefits were keeping people from looking for work. Research published in recent weeks suggests benefits played a muted role in any lack of workers, however.

Four states (Alaska, Arizona, Florida, and Ohio) only ended the extra $300 a week and kept other federal benefits intact. And state judges in Indiana, Maryland, and Arkansas reversed officials’ withdrawal, reinstating the benefits.

About 1.25 million workers in these seven states will lose federal benefits upon their official expiration in early September, according to the Century Foundation.  

In the remaining states, another 7.5 million self-employed individuals, gig workers, long-term unemployed and others will lose benefits through two federal programs, according to The Century Foundation. Those programs are the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

There are also currently about 2.8 million Americans collecting regular state benefits, according to the Labor Department. Recipients can continue to get aid past early September, assuming they haven’t yet exhausted their maximum duration, typically six months. However, their checks will be reduced by $300 a week.

A narrow majority of U.S. workers would support a vaccine mandate at their job‚ a Gallup survey released Wednesday found, suggesting employers considering one have at least a base of support, even if there is a sizable minority opposed.

Some 52% of workers surveyed favor or strongly favor their employer requiring Covid-19 vaccines, while 38% oppose or strongly oppose that idea.

Support for the vaccine mandate increased from 49% in June, which was up from 46% in May.

Those strongly opposing mandates fell slightly over the same period—from 31% in June to 29% in July. 

Just 9% of workers said their employers have mandated vaccines, an increase from 5% in May.

Far more employers are “encouraging” vaccinations, although that number fell slightly from May, when 66% encouraged it, to 62% in July.

The share of employers not requiring or encouraging vaccines has held steady at 29%.

An even larger share of U.S. residents polled said they support mask mandates: 64% supported state and local government requirements to wear the masks in public places, while 69% supported schools requiring them for students and staff, and 63% put their mask where their mouth is and wear one “at least sometimes” in public, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Underneath the support, though, is a passionate minority of people who strongly oppose mask-wearing—33% of people support states banning local mask mandates—and a sharp partisan divide between Democrats, roughly nine in 10 of whom support mask mandates, and Republicans, of whom 40% support public masking requirements 40% and 44% support the mandates at schools. Many large employers have announced requirements for employees to be vaccinated, including Facebook and MGM Resorts, or to wear masks on the job, as Target, Walmart, Publix grocery stores and others have mandated.

44%. That’s the share of employers who are giving employees time off to get the vaccine, Gallup reported in June.