The Biden Administration has now confirmed that they won’t extend federally funded unemployment benefits past the September 6th expiration date. They are instead encouraging states with high unemployment or hit hard by COVID-19 Delta to use existing ARPA stimulus funding to extend and expand traditional state unemployment benefits for as long as needed.
With the unemployment rate approaching 5% nationally and many (mainly Republican) states having already opted out of pandemic unemployment programs (PUA, PEUC and $300 FPUC); the Biden Administration is reluctant to extend these federally funded programs by Executive order and would rather defer the decision to the states who manage and administer their unemployment programs.
“The temporary $300 boost in benefits will expire on September 6th, as planned. As President Biden has said, the boost was always intended to be temporary and it is appropriate for that benefit boost to expire. States and cities can use their portions of $350 billion in direct aid from the American Rescue [Stimulus] Plan to provide assistance to unemployed workers, including by continuing to provide additional weeks of benefits.”Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh in a co-written Senate letter
State Funding From ARPA Bill
Biden’s ARPA stimulus bill provided $350 billion of State and Local Fiscal Recovery (SLFR) funding to address issues from COVID-19 related economic and joblessness.
As discussed in this video, there is wide latitude for usage of these funds by state governors and departments. This would include extending and expanding state unemployment benefits.
States Who Ended Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Early
Over 25 states have already ended their participation, up to 10 weeks early, in these federal unemployment programs in order to encourage jobless workers to return to the workforce as their unemployment benefits could have been more than what they were making by working.
Most of these states still have low unemployment rates and high job vacancy rates. So it is unlikely they would use SLFR funding to extend or expand unemployment benefits, even if they wanted to.
Expanding State Unemployment to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Claimants
The one exception many state unemployment departments may make is to expand their existing programs to cover workers in the PUA program (free lancers, gig workers etc) who would normally not be covered by traditional state unemployment programs.