Even with the Delta variant causing steadily high cases of COVID-19 across the states, many businesses closing and filing for bankruptcy, no extensions are offered for the eventual end of federal pandemic unemployment benefits, which were set to end September 6.
Due to the pandemic, benefit programs for unemployed Americans were launched, such as the following:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or (PUA)
This assistance gives unemployment benefits “to individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment compensation.”
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
Under this compensation, qualifiers will receive unemployment compensation, additional coverage, and other state benefits.
In August, around 5.4 million claimed their PUA benefits, while 3.8 million claimed the benefits for PEUC.
Unfortunately, both benefit programs have already expired by their deadline, September 6. Ironically, the deadline is also nationally commemorated as Labor Day– a day to celebrate laborers and their hard work– but due to the expiration of these pandemic unemployment benefits, around 9.2 million workers are left at very high financial risk.
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Extensions of these benefit programs are a shot in the dark.
States like Arkansas and Oregon said they won’t be extending these programs, as there are other priorities that need funding.
With the government allowing these programs to expire and pronouncements of things “slowly getting back to normal” because of economic spikes, unemployment benefits seem to be gone for good.
The Biden administration has advised state leaders to use funds from the American Rescue Plan to extend benefits should they deem it necessary.
Eliza Forsythe, a professor at the University of Illinois advocates for an extension of the unemployment benefits programs.
“It’s certainly possible we could have another round of economic contraction in certain areas if there’s an outbreak. Without the PEUC and PUA program, the unemployment system won’t be there for people the way it’s been over the past year.”