Can I get an extension on my unemployment benefits?
Initial unemployment increases jumped by 55,000 last week, the first major increase seen in months as Omicron spreads and disrupts business activity.
The Department of Labor has reported that for the week ending on 15 January initial unemployment claims climbed by 55,000 to 280,000. This is not nearly as high as the numbers reached in the beginning of the pandemic, but is a significant increase compared to the low levels reached in late 2021. Late last year, the rate of first time claims for these benefits hit a historic low. This did not mean however, that the labor market had absorbed all workers who had been laid off during the pandemic.
At this point there are no federal extensions to support those who have lost their jobs during the latest surge of the virus.
The White House has argued that congressional approval for more federal funding for unemployment is not needed because of funds sent to state through the American Rescue Plan. The administration has urged states to use the money allocated to support workers who are laid off or continue to struggle to find work because of child care responsibilities or because they are a part of a high risk group when it comes to covid-19.
Another option, rather than extending unemployment benefits, would be to use the funds to establish paid family leave programs so that workers are not laid off for covid-19 related reasons.
Inequities persist in unemployment
The White House has touted that the unemployment rate, which stands at 3.9 percent, is a major accomplishment for their first year in office.
However, it is important to note that the rates across demographic groups are not equal. While the rate for white workers has reached its pre-pandemic level the same cannot be true for other racial groups.
States offer compensation to those who withdraw who refuse covid-19
Some states offer have begun to offer compensation to workers who have been laid off because they refuse to comply with the vaccine mandates. However, after the Supreme Court decisions that weakened the ability of major employers to implement vaccine mandates, many of these states might need to offer this kind of compensation.