Now that three major pandemic relief programs for the unemployed have ended, millions of Americans and their families will face a substantial reduction in their unemployment benefits, if not loss of payments entirely.
5.1 million individuals receiving PUA (for freelancers, gig workers, and carers) and 3.8 million people receiving PEUC (for the long-term jobless) will lose their benefits completely in the future. As of late August, approximately 76 percent of all UI claimants had lost their unemployment benefits entirely.
The $300 weekly supplement, or an immediate $1,200 reduction in monthly wages, will be lost for the 2.6 million individuals who qualify for conventional UI, jeopardizing their ability to pay for necessities such as food, shelter, and medical supplies.
Here are four actions you may take now that the pandemic UI programs have ended if you were receiving benefits via one of these programs.
Obtain certification for the remainder of your benefits
PUA and PEUC eligibility expired on September 6th. You still have time to submit your information if you think you qualify for either program but have never submitted a claim or have missed a week of certification.
According to Alexa Tapia, the UI campaign coordinator for the National Employment Law Project, states have a 30-day window following the expiry of PUA or PEUC to receive fresh claims for weeks employees are entitled.
Despite the fact that Congress has taken no steps to prolong pandemic UI, some supporters have recommended that individuals on PUA and PEUC continue to certify if the programs are extended, as they have in the past. Tapia, on the other hand, does not advocate this, claiming that employees would most likely not be able to do so on state UI websites.
“Whether or not they worked at all the prior year, certain workers — those who are typically qualified for UI — may have no option but to check to see whether they have a new benefit year,” Tapia explains. “At the moment, Congress has said unequivocally that these programs will not be extended. If they did, they would make a decision on retroactivity.”
Long-term jobless employees who lost PEUC in certain states may be eligible for continuing assistance by switching to Extended Benefits, EB, a federally funded aid program that begins based on the unemployment rate in their state. After September 11, California, Illinois, Nevada, and Texas will terminate their EB programs.
EB will continue to provide qualified people in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New Mexico with up to 13 weeks of extra unemployment benefits.
Because the eligibility criteria for EB vary from those for PEUC, you may need to apply for the new program individually with your state, or you may be immediately transferred over if you qualify. For further information, contact your state’s labor department.
Find food, shelter, health care, and other resources
A few government relief programs remain in place to help people who are suffering, including monthly advance child tax credit payments, enhanced Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits, emergency rental assistance, and the suspension of federal student loan payments.
Because the eligibility criteria differ by region, not everyone will be eligible.
ExtendPUA, a grassroots advocacy organization, has a resource page for additional financial, career, and mental health resources that goes beyond government assistance and includes help with utilities, Wi-Fi, UI claims disputes, and “a lot of mutual aid,” according to ExtendPUA Executive Director Stephanie Freed. ““We shouldn’t rely on mutual aid to keep people alive in our country, but it does exist and is ready to help.”
She has spent the past several weeks receiving frantic letters from families who have lost their jobs. “This isn’t right, and it’s not their fault, we’re sending a message to everyone. They aren’t on their own.”
Get in touch with someone who can help you with your job hunt
Despite record job vacancies, would-be employees continue to blame continuing child-care difficulties, virus concerns, and a shifting perspective of workplace preferences or career objectives for their inability to find appropriate paid employment during the epidemic. In today’s tight job market, many more put out dozens, if not hundreds, of applications and never hear back, despite the fact that not everyone benefits equally.
However, there are many groups dedicated to assisting individuals in re-entering the employment. The Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop is an excellent place to go if you have questions about anything to do with work, including updating your CV, interview preparation, and job training and placement. The National Able Network, for example, can assist you get on-the-job training that may lead to a new profession.
Career experts also recommend narrowing your job search to your immediate region, such as by studying employment patterns in your ZIP code, utilizing a local job board, contacting with businesses directly, or seeking assistance from public services such as a local library.
Extensive unemployment and underemployment, according to studies, may have a long-term negative effect on a job seeker’s physical and emotional health. As a result, take steps to avoid burnout throughout a lengthy job hunt.
Contact to your lawmakers in your area
Some legislators, economists, and activists have spent months arguing that pandemic UI should be extended since the delta variant increased Covid caseloads and slowed labor market recovery.
However, much of the grassroots activism that helped drive past extensions failed to gain enough traction in Congress this time.
By August, the Biden administration had encouraged states to use emergency pandemic funds to provide additional benefits to the nation’s millions of jobless. The majority of state labor departments, on the other hand, stated that they had no plans to prolong or provide extra benefits on their own.
ExtendPUA has now added methods for individuals to contact their state lawmakers and encourage them to offer greater financial and career assistance to jobless citizens to its advocacy tools.
Many worker advocacy groups, such as ExtendPUA, Unemployed Action, and Unemployed Workers United, are pressuring policymakers to enact more long-term systemic reform to cover more workers and to implement automatic stabilizers, such as the unemployment rate, to trigger federal relief rather than allowing lawmakers to choose calendar dates. Labor groups have also urged Congress to incorporate federal and state policies in its next reconciliation bill in order to prolong assistance and improve UI systems in general.
Freed isn’t ready to give up on pandemic UI extensions yet. “We’re going to keep applying pressure where we can, while also pivoting a little to reform UI systems so this doesn’t happen again,” she adds. “There is no reason to stop the assistance now, when people are unable to return to work and the country remains under a state of emergency.”