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Confusing Array of State and Federal Programs

My chart is modified from CBPP Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Policy Basics: How Many Weeks of Unemployment Compensation Are Available?

Where I show two numbers, the first number is regular state unemployment insurance and the second number (if present) represents extended benefits. 

I suggested a change in the CBPP chart as I posted above, breaking out South Carolina and noting most states have 39 or more weeks of benefits in addition to 13 weeks of PEUC,

Key Points

  1. Most states offer at least 26 weeks of unemployment insurance plus 13 or more weeks of extended benefits.  Some states offer more. States offering 30 or fewer weeks are noted. 
  2. A Federal pandemic PEUC (Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation) program kicks in after regular state programs expire. PEUC provides 13 weeks of  compensation at the paid state level but the money comes from the federal government. Every state participates in PEUC. It kicks in before extended benefits.
  3. Persons not eligible for state claims can file for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. PUA covers gig workers and self-employed workers who are not covered by state programs. It also covers part-time workers. PUA is rife with fraud and terrible reporting.
  4. After PEUC expires, most but not all states have Extended Benefit programs also paid by the federal government but not every state is in the program. 

Extended Benefits Triggered in 41 States

CBPP notes "Extended Benefits (EB) have triggered on in 41 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Through the end of 2020, additional weeks of federal benefits are also available."

Week 32 of the Pandemic

Week 32 of the Pandemic

Unemployment Math 

  • Unemployment spiked on March 21.
  • We are in week 32 of the pandemic. 
  • The federal government provides 13 weeks of unemployment insurance to all states.
  • 32 - 13 = 19.

If you lost your job early in any state that provides 19 or less weeks of state + extended benefits, then you have exhausted all of your state benefits and all of your PEUC benefits. 

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Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, and North Carolina are in that group. Missouri and Idaho are a week and three weeks away respectively. 

Those in state programs are not eligible for PUA. One must first apply at the state level. 

PUA Rules

Please consider the Justia report on Coronavirus and Unemployment Benefits: 50-State Resources.

The PUA benefit amount is distinct from the standard unemployment benefit amount listed for each state. It cannot exceed the maximum weekly unemployment benefit in the claimant’s state, and the minimum amount is half of the applicable state’s average weekly unemployment benefit amount.

States With Expired or Expiring Programs

  • Alabama: Standard Benefit Amount: $45 - $275 per week
  • Arkansas: Standard Benefit Amount: $81 - $451 per week
  • Florida: Standard Benefit Amount: $32 - $275 per week
  • North Carolina: Standard Benefit Amount: $15 - $350 per week
  • Missouri: Standard Benefit Amount: $35 - $320 per week
  • Idaho: Standard Benefit Amount: $72 - $448 per week

Those who expired all of their state benefits will get no more than the listed maximums. The minimum is a mere 50% of the state average.

Massachusetts and Washington provide the highest benefits with maximums over $800. 

Five states (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee) have a maximum weekly benefit under $300. 

Mississippi was dead last at $235 per week.

There are a lot of people in deep serious trouble, with more in that position every week.