Early End to Pandemic Unemployment Program (PUA) Along With $300 Unemployment Supplement Will Be Devastating to Jobless Freelancers, Gig Workers, Contractors and Part Time Workers

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program was put in place primarily for those out-of-work Americans who are not eligible for regular state unemployment benefits and are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of certain health or economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes independent contractors, freelancers or gig economy workers. Many who have irregular or several part time jobs.

This group of jobless workers are generally self-employed (1099 wages) and are not covered by traditional state unemployment programs because they don’t get regular wages or W2 income so did not automatically contribute taxes towards regular state unemployment.

The PUA program, originally enacted under the CARES act of 2020, has been extended several times over the last year and was meant to last until the week ending September 4th, 2021. The program is federally funded, but administered by the states. And now many of these state Governors, overwhelmingly Republican, have instructed their unemployment agencies to end the PUA program along with the supplementary $300 FPUC payment up to 10 weeks early.

The rationale behind this is that these generous pandemic benefits, especially the extra $300 weekly payment, deter lower income workers (who make less than $15 p/hour) in these states from returning to work. By removing this federally funded unemployment support, business’ and law makers pushing these changes argue that workers will be much more motivated to return to work and fill the many open job vacancies available as the nation emerges from the pandemic.

Tran and her husband have managed a live performance space in Kansas City since 2014. They shut down during the pandemic when their main venue closed. They have just started to have a few shows. A recent outdoor one was foiled by rain. They are optimistic they will mostly be back by the end of summer, but they are barely making any money now, and Missouri just cut off unemployment entirely for gig workers and the self-employed.

Washington Post

Opponents to the early termination of these programs argue that the reason people are not going back to work is due to fears around getting COVID and/or child care and schooling restrictions. Many economists also don’t think the enhanced unemployment benefit are the primary factor causing business’ to face a worker shortage. Instead they are saying that business should raise wages and governments should reopen schools/childcare faster.

The PUA program has served as a backstop for our broken and outdated unemployment insurance (UI) systems…which often exclude workers who are misclassified as independent contractors and low-wage workers. State UI laws are also unequipped to support workers for the length necessary in this pandemic and recession, and the permanent federal program that is supposed to be of use during recessions and other crises is fatally flawed and simply put, doesn’t work.

According to the Century Foundation the governors’ decisions to terminate unemployment benefits could reduce or cut off $11 billion of benefits for nearly 2 million people. Further, Government Accountability Office reporting has shown that the minimum PUA benefit is below the poverty level in 29 states. So the extra $300 FPUC weekly payment does have a significant impact.

Prominent Democrats like Bernie Sanders have also urged federal action. But states are well within their rights to terminate these programs with 30 days notice to the US Department of Labor. You can see more in this recent YouTube video on this topic.

I am writing to remind you of your congressionally-mandated requirement to provide PUA benefits to workers ineligible for state unemployment aid and urging you to ensure workers receive these benefits even when states threaten to take it away. It is critical that the US Department of Labor does everything in its power to ensure that jobless Americans continue to receive this aid as the law intended

Senator Bernie Sanders
States Ending Unemployment EarlyPrograms EndingTermination Date
Alabama$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 19th, 2021
Alaska$300 FPUCJune 12th, 2021
Arizona$300 FPUCJuly 10th, 2021
Arkansas$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 26th, 2021
Florida$300 FPUCJune 26th, 2021
Georgia$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 26th, 2021
Idaho$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 19th, 2021
Indiana$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 19th, 2021* (Legal Challenge)
Iowa$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 12th, 2021
Louisiana$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJuly 31st, 2021
Maryland$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJuly 3rd, 2021* (Legal Challenge; Still paying)
Mississippi$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 12th, 2021
Missouri$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 12th, 2021
Montana$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 26th, 2021
Nebraska$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 19th, 2021
New Hampshire$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 19th, 2021
North Dakota$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 19th, 2021
Ohio$300 FPUCJune 26th, 2021
Oklahoma$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 26th, 2021
South Carolina$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 30th, 2021
South Dakota$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 26th, 2021
Tennessee$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJuly 3rd, 2021
Texas$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 26th, 2021
Utah$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 26th, 2021
West Virginia$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 19th, 2021
Wyoming$300 FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUCJune 19th, 2021
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4 thoughts on “Early End to Pandemic Unemployment Program (PUA) Along With $300 Unemployment Supplement Will Be Devastating to Jobless Freelancers, Gig Workers, Contractors and Part Time Workers”

  1. When Ducey changed the rules for filing, no instructions were provided in how to list job searches for self-employed or for those seeking remote work. Instructions arrived 2 days after filing. My account was flagged as a result. I have completed everything correctly since. The people I spoke to said everything was okay. I was then assigned a case worker. I was a musician and a fully time graduate student who had a tour scheduled for May of 2020, which was cancelled. Having filed taxes as a self-employed musician, I used my 2019 taxes as proof. My claim was revoked and now I hav zero income and support 2 other people. I was told that since I did not work January of 2020, I was ineligible. I told them I was in grad school full time and could only work summer and holidays. I lost all gigs from March of 2020 onwards. They don’t care. I think they set us up to be flagged and eliminated. Once again, musicians get screwed.

    Reply
    • I personally don’t think that was an good idea for the governors to take away the pua and all others that was set to end in September. Just because fast foods and retailers are saying its a shortage with hiring people and to blame it on the unemployment was soo not worth ending the help. Everybody does not wont fast food and retail jobs. Many of people that were getting the Xtra help probably Never worked in fast food nor retail stores before. I personally think that this was a crappy call. The governors doesn’t know what positions or titles individuals had before this pandemic. Put yourself in the peoples shoes that’s getting the extra help. Everybody doesn’t have money like you all have. Yall doesn’t know how it feels to be struggling to make ends meet.I really hate yall made that unfairly decision based on restaurants and retailers. SHAME ON YOU ALL.

      Reply
      • Agree with you completely. None of us would be in this situation without government mandated shut downs. Now, it’s up to us to rebuild our lives, and the lives of our families within a short time. There must be additional support, without shame towards the workers that never asked for this.

        Reply

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