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COVID & Unemployment

You can still get unemployment benefits after state payments run out

Mitchell Hartman Oct 15, 2020
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The CARES Act gives people the opportunity for a 13-week extension after state unemployment benefits end. Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images
COVID & Unemployment

You can still get unemployment benefits after state payments run out

Mitchell Hartman Oct 15, 2020
Heard on:
The CARES Act gives people the opportunity for a 13-week extension after state unemployment benefits end. Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

We are now more than six months into the catastrophic wave of unemployment that kicked off with the pandemic in early spring. More than 25 million people are still claiming benefits.

The half-year milestone is significant because, after 26 weeks on the rolls, people’s regular state jobless benefits run out. The CARES Act passed in March provides a federally-funded extension of those payments. 

Mark Smith of Clackamas, Oregon, has been on unemployment since March when he was laid off from the factory where he worked as a janitor. 

“The initial 26 weeks was up; I was at $0 balance,” he said.

He just put in for a 13 week federally-funded extension called Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC. He had to start a new application and download a PDF — he’s not sure he did it right.

“I’m hoping, doing my fingers crossed,” Smith said.

Switching to the federal extension should be seamless. The rules for qualifying are the same, said Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. But, “we’re seeing a much bigger drop in regular unemployment insurance than we’re seeing an increase in PEUC,” she said.

Some states are making people reapply for benefits, causing delays. Smith is waiting to find out if he’s gotten the extension. Until then, “I’m like trying to hold every cent,” he said.

He’s been living on about $300 a week in unemployment.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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