PEUC + Primary PUA Claims
That total represents the approximate number of people who just lost benefits, but it is best to look at the PEUC and PUA programs individually.
Neither program is seasonally adjusted so the counts are real assuming the counts are not flawed in other ways.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Claims (PEUC)
PEUC benefits kick in after people have exhausted regular state benefits.
PEUC counts are generally accurate as states do a good job of weeding out applicants because the states, not the Federal government, are on the hook.
There was a big jump in PEUC claims in September because that is when people in some states exhausted their state unemployment benefits.
The acceleration flattened in November as people exhausted their PEUC benefits as well.
Thus, although accurate, the current count of 4.8 million understates the problem.
I have more on the list of expiring state and PEUC benefits below.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Claims
PUA claims cover part-time workers, the self-employed, and others who do not qualify for regular state benefits.
The PUA program is rife with fraud, double-counting, and reporting errors.
That said, some percentage of PUA claims are not fraudulent.
But fraudulent or not, to the extent the money was paid, that number of people will no longer have money coming in.
Fraud aside is the number of people collecting benefits closer to 9 million, 7 million, or 5 million?
Let's assume an overcount of 2 million. If so, 7 million people collected benefits. Fraudulent or not, those benefits just stopped.
Continued claims represents the number of people in regular state unemployment programs.
The number is a huge distortion of reality because people fall off the rolls as benefits expire.
When people exhaust state benefits they roll into PEUC benefits or PUA benefits, and in some cases back into state benefits.
State Level Unemployment Benefits 2020-12-10
I created the above map using Center on Budget and Policy Priorities as a starting point.
I have Florida at 12+6 although CBPP shows the number as a flat 12.
It's a moot point as 18 weeks of benefits expired long ago no matter which is accurate.
The map keeps changing.
State Level Unemployment Benefits 2020-10-28
Comments Oct 28 vs Dec 10
- On October 28, the CBPP commented "Extended Benefits (EB) have triggered on in 41 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands."
- On December 10, the CBPP commented "Extended Benefits (EB) have triggered on in 24 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands."
Those comments do not jive. More states, not fewer, should be in extended benefits now vs. October.
I believe the October 28 comment was incorrect.
The CBPP changed Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Maine, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
Those 13 states went from 26+ weeks of benefits to 26 weeks on the nose.
I caught the South Carolina error in my previous map.
The CBPP explains:
The map shows only the maximum number of weeks of regular plus EB benefits that are currently available in each state. It does not include the weeks of benefits that the pandemic-specific programs can add through the end of the year.
Perhaps that explains the changes as I did not note either way a similar paragraph in October.
Regardless, PUA and PEUC are both dead.
Dramatic Map Worsening
The change from October to December represents a dramatic worsening of what's actually happening.
There are 26 states that provide a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits plus extended benefits.
Those benefits are expired or rapidly headed that way.
When Did State + Extended Benefits Expire?
Those who started collecting unemployment benefits in mid-March or earlier and remained unemployed have already expired all of their benefits in most states.
Those in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Idaho, Missouri, Alabama, and Arkansas who went on unemployment early and stayed there lost all of their benefits long ago.
Expiring benefits add up to a huge understatement of the problem even assuming a significant amount of PUA overcounts.
Depending on PUA overcounts, the range of those who just lost all of their benefits is likely between 12 to 16 million with 14 million as my best guess.