The expansive pandemic unemployment provisions passed under the CARES act have been widely acknowledged as the largest boost to individuals who lost their jobs as a result of the Coronavirus induced slowdown. In particular the extra $600 (FPUC) weekly payment on top of the regular state unemployment compensation has been by far the most effective part of the government’s economic policy response to the fallout from the Coronavirus induced recession and unemployment spike.
There is little doubt that the $600 payment and other enhanced unemployment benefits – like the PUA covering those workers not normally eligible for state unemployment benefits or extending existing benefit coverage periods by 13 weeks for those whose jobs or livelihood were impacted by COVID – will be a big boost to many households. However the roll-out of these new provisions and payment to recipients has been less than stellar to say the least, mainly because of decades of under-investment in the administrative capacity of state UI agencies and systems (many still using mainframes or home grown software) has left them incapable of flexibly in adjusting to the new provisions and determining the eligibility of newly covered worker groups.
House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have confirmed the importance of the $600 weekly payment for the millions of unemployed by passing putting a new Stimulus bill in the House, called the HEROES act, which includes an extension of the $600 per week extra unemployment payment (FPUC) through to January 2021 as the current FPUC/PUA provisions approved in March are set to expire at the end of July.
It also appears highly likely that the White House and President will be supportive of the enhanced unemployment provisions extensions because it allows immediate and substantial economic relief for those who have lost their jobs and incomes. With the current provisions expiring in a few weeks, I expect that that Congress will eventually craft a bill to extend these UI benefits (unlike many others being proposed, including another 2020 stimulus check) to the end of 2020 and possibly into early 2021. Hopefully by then the payment of current unemployment benefits is much smoother than it is now.
Last Updated on