UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Is federal jobless aid available for long-term unemployed workers?

Enhanced federal unemployment benefits ended for millions of Americans jobless due to the pandemic, but there are still some who can claim additional aid.

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Is federal jobless aid available for long-term unemployed workers?
PATRICK T. FALLON AFP

The federal programs that provided income support to American workers unable to work due to the covid-19 pandemic came to a halt at the beginning of September. It’s been calculated that around 7.5 million saw all of the unemployment benefits they were receiving stop.

Even as the economy recovers not all will be able to reenter the workforce immediately. Either due to a mismatch of skills for the jobs available or the lingering complications caused by pandemic, it’s been shown that the unemployment benefits weren’t the main reason holding people back from finding a job.causing labor shortages.

States will not continue the enhanced jobless aid

Prior to the federal pandemic income support programs for those out of work coming to an end, the Biden administration called on states to use covid-19 relief funds authorized by Congress to extend unemployment benefits. However, no state labor department has announced that additional benefits are on the way.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said at a press conference last week that her hands were tied in the matter due to the deficit incurred by the state’s unemployment system during the pandemic. This is the case in other states as well which saw historic numbers of residents claiming benefits for the first time as covid-19 and lockdowns shuttered businesses across the nation.

Workers in a few states can receive extended benefits

For workers who found themselves without employment beyond the amount of time they were allowed under their state’s regular unemployment insurance system, they had access to a pair of programs. These long-term unemployed could receive Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) which provided an additional 13 weeks of income support. Around 3.8 million workers were collecting jobless aid from this program in mid-August.

The other program Extended Benefits (EB) is a federal-state aid program that provides additional weeks depending on the unemployment rate in a state. While these benefits have ceased in most states, either because the unemployment rate is now below the threshold or the state can no longer cover the cost without the federal funds which expired, a few states will still continue payments.

The unemployed who have exhausted their regular state unemployment insurance in Connecticut, New Jersey and New Mexico may be able to get up to 13 weeks of additional income support while out of work. That is on the condition that they haven’t already used up those 13 weeks already. They will need to contact their state labor department to see what action they need to take in order to receive these benefits or find out what other financial aid is available until they can get find a job.