$600 Federal Increase To Benefits Expires, But Many Idahoans Are Still Facing Unemployment
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program was approved in March to provide a temporary boost to weekly unemployment payments under the CARES Act. Under that program, those who filed for unemployment got $600 in addition to their unemployment benefits.
However, that extra benefit expired over the weekend, leaving many who received that money to wonder how to replace it.
“Until Congress decides what steps to take or if additional steps will be available, then we’re back to regular unemployment insurance or pandemic unemployment assistance,” said Jani Revier, Director of the Idaho Department of Labor.
She says other pandemic programs will remain through the end of the year, like the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. That plan expands coverage to those who wouldn’t normally receive benefits, like self-employed workers.
Unemployment levels remain stubbornly high. In February 2020, Idaho's unemployment was 2.7 percent. Now, the state's most recent data reports a rate of 5.6 percent. During the last 18 weeks, there have been three times as many initial claims filed in Idaho as there were in all of 2019.
Revier says the department has been working to let Idahoans know the federal subsidy is ending.
“I fear that there will still be some folks that are surprised by it,” said Revier.
Revier says statewide and regional assistance, like the Idaho Food Bank, can be helpful resources for those whose standard unemployment payments won’t cover their current needs.
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