Pandemic unemployment advantages expired on Labor Day. May they be renewed?

The September termination of unemployment advantages was thought of the biggest in US historical past. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

For probably the most up-to-date information and details about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO and CDC web sites.

After the pandemic-related growth of unemployment insurance coverage ended on Sept. 6, roughly 7.5 million individuals misplaced their advantages totally, with tens of millions extra dropping the $300 weekly bonus checks. The short-term federal advantages — which included protection for these usually ineligible for jobless assist, like gig staff and the long-term unemployed — had been in place since spring 2020 to assist those that misplaced revenue from COVID-19 restrictions or layoffs. 


This week, a gaggle of Democratic lawmakers, led by Reps. Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, referred to as to reform the unemployment system within the coming $3.5 trillion Home spending plan. In a Sept. 16 letter, they famous that the nation now “denies life-saving sources to over two-thirds” of these with out jobs, as assist now covers “lower than half of misplaced wages.” In addition they famous that 90% of unemployed staff and “particularly Black and Brown communities” have been left with no advantages in any respect. 

Roughly two dozen states had already stopped the emergency federal applications early over the summer season, with governors claiming the additional unemployment insurance coverage was discouraging individuals from taking out there jobs. But new Labor Division knowledge confirms that reducing off the advantages supplied no enchancment in job development or hiring. Numerous research have famous that the important thing elements in sluggish labor market restoration are ongoing security issues, low wages or household care duties. 

With the uptick in delta-variant instances, the COVID period hasn’t come to a detailed. May the White Home renew these additional advantages? What can individuals do who want unemployment protection to make ends meet? We’ll clarify under. This story has been lately up to date. 

Who misplaced federal unemployment advantages on Labor Day? 

On the very begin of the pandemic, the March 2020 CARES Act established short-term federal unemployment assist applications, and the American Rescue Plan in March 2021 prolonged these advantages to Labor Day. This is who was affected by the applications’ expiration, based on an in depth evaluation of Labor Division knowledge by the Century Basis

Greater than 3 million extra individuals misplaced Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, the weekly bonus — initially $600, then $300 — that helped out-of-work Individuals complement advantages and recuperate some misplaced wages. If you happen to’re nonetheless eligible to gather state unemployment insurance coverage (that’s, if you have not exhausted the utmost period of protection), you will proceed to obtain some compensation after the cutoff. However the quantity shall be decrease with out the weekly $300 bonus. 

Some 3.3 million individuals misplaced all their Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC, which prolonged assist to those that had already exhausted their state’s advantages interval (often 26 weeks). This class contains staff who would have not been eligible to obtain unemployment as a result of they handed their state’s profit window. This system supplied as much as 53 weeks of extra assist for many who had exceeded state allowances.

One other 4.2 million individuals misplaced Pandemic Unemployment Help, or PUA, which coated staff not usually eligible for federal or state unemployment compensation, together with freelancers, gig staff, unbiased contractors and part-time staff. Throughout the pandemic, this system additionally supported those that could not work as a result of they had been taking good care of a dependent. 

That is not the total image of everybody affected by unemployment. Reported jobless charges usually do not account for many who have left the labor power totally and are not counted as searching for work, such because the long-term unemployed. 

These at a serious drawback are staff in frontline industries, particularly Black staff — whose present unemployment fee is round 10%. Additionally, ladies have been notably arduous hit (PDF) by pandemic-related job losses, and had been closely accountable for taking good care of kids or relations through the pandemic. 

May pandemic advantages be reinstated?

Because the federal expiration deadline approached, White Home officers made it clear they weren’t planning to proceed the improved jobless advantages previous Labor Day, saying they had been meant to be short-term. When a number of states pulled out of pandemic-era unemployment applications prematurely through the summer season, Labor Division officers had stated their arms had been tied and so they could not counter choices by governors. 

On Sept. 15, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced that she can be introducing a invoice to retroactively lengthen enhanced jobless advantages till February 2022. Saying she’s undecided of the prospects of the laws being handed, Ocasio-Cortez famous that she “couldn’t permit this to occur with out a minimum of making an attempt.” The next day, she and 12 different Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to the Home management urging them to incorporate an growth of unemployment assist within the $3.5 trillion finances bundle generally known as the Construct Again Higher Act. 

For now, President Joe Biden has appeared to move the buck to the states, telling governors they’ll use restoration funds to assist these fighting unemployment. In line with an Aug. 19 letter by Labor and Treasury Division officers, states can use $350 billion of pandemic funds that Congress allotted within the American Rescue Plan to proceed paying unemployed staff. The letter says that in areas the place unemployment stays excessive, “it could make sense for unemployed staff to proceed receiving extra help for an extended time frame,” which might permit these people to discover a job. 

It isn’t clear right now which states will select to make use of any leftover pandemic funds to proceed jobless advantages. In line with a CBS Information report, not each state has shut the door to persevering with some advantages, with some native officers reviewing choices for offering help after the Labor Day expiration. 

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Why did benefits end early in so many states?

Citing labor shortages in the spring, 26 state governors claimed pandemic-related unemployment benefits were producing limited incentives for workers to take jobs. Many economists and analysts disagreed, highlighting several factors that prevented people from finding suitable work, including low wages, lack of health care, inadequate child care and fear of contracting COVID-19. 

With unemployment claims still fluctuating as the economy struggles to return to pre-pandemic “normalcy,” reports are showing that the early cancellation of the federal programs had little impact on labor markets. A recent JP Morgan Chase Institute study (PDF) confirmed that states that ended supplemental unemployment insurance programs during the summer saw a limited impact on job growth.

According to an August report by the Century Foundation’s Andrew Stettner, “Politics, not economics, drove the attack on unemployment insurance.” The states that cut off the enhanced benefits before the federal expiration were mostly Republican-led. 

Arkansas, Indiana and Maryland were slated to cut off benefits early, but successful lawsuits forced those states to preserve the federal coverage, at least temporarily. In issuing their rulings, judges noted that the ending of benefits made it harder for the unemployed to afford basic needs. Lawsuits were also filed against state governors elsewhere, which were either denied by judges or are still held up in the courts. 

Some states and employers started offering financial incentives for individuals to find work. Since each state has different requirements, check to see if there are signing bonuses where you live.


As the economy still recovers, the end of pandemic aid can feel like a trap for millions without a job. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Is it too late to apply for unemployment insurance? 

If you’ve been laid off or furloughed, you can apply for unemployment benefits in your state. Once the state approves your claim, you can apply to receive whatever state benefits you’re entitled to. Because states cover 30% to 50% of a person’s wages, there isn’t a single sum you could expect on a national basis. Each state’s unemployment insurance office provides information to file a claim with the program in the state where you worked. Some claims may be filed in person, by phone or online, so it’s best to contact your state’s office directly.

Eligibility criteria vary from state to state, but the general rule is that you should apply if you’ve lost your job or been laid off through no fault of your own, including if it was due directly or indirectly to the pandemic. You can check on your state’s requirements here. In February, the Department of Labor updated its unemployment eligibility requirements to include people who refused to return to work due to unsafe coronavirus standards.

As for self-employed workers and freelancers who are losing PUA coverage, some online groups are calling to extend pandemic unemployment programs through the crisis and offer more information. 

You might also want to know about the IRS issuing refunds to those who were taxed on their 2020 unemployment benefits. And here’s an important primer on the 2021 enhanced child tax credit, which is offering millions of families extra money in advance of next year’s taxes.

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