As you can see from the graphic below, the PUA and PEUC programs make-up nearly 70% of unemployment benefits paid over the last 12 months. These programs, in addition to the $300 to $600 weekly boost, have helped tens of millions of people and their families get through the worst economic crisis in over a century.
However when these federally funded programs officially end in September, unless an unlikely extension is approved, the main option left to jobless workers will be traditional state unemployment.
With unemployment levels still above pre-pandemic levels, there is a real concern that the impending end of enhanced pandemic unemployment benefits with no new stimulus payments on the horizon, millions of jobless workers could be left in financial ruin as economic and job growth may stall in the coming months as new COVID strains wreak havoc.
The biggest concern however is that those who got benefits under the PUA program, such as freelancers and gig workers, would not qualify for regular state unemployment which requires a W2 or some proof of employer based income. This is going to potentially leave millions without any benefits and no recourse for getting regular state unemployment benefits.
States that have ended benefits early are already facing backlash and law suits from jobless workers and advocate groups, but are holding firm that the number of unfilled vacancies support the early termination of benefits.
Proponents of keeping benefits going say that some workers are unable to return to jobs just yet due to fear of falling ill or difficulty accessing child care. Estimates suggest that nearly 75% of jobless workers in these states have no access to any form of unemployment benefits.
While it’s too early to say if this is the case, there is little doubt from the comments below and across this site that the unemployment pandemic is far from over.