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Ending Federal Unemployment In Idaho Will Cut Claims By More Than Half

Help wanted signs in the window of an American employment agency.
Charles Krupa
FILE - In this Tuesday, March 2, 2021, file photo, a woman, wearing a protective mask due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, walks past the signs of an employment agency, in Manchester, N.H. Companies are advertising more jobs than they were before the pandemic, when the unemployment rate was a 50-year low of 3.5%. So they clearly want to add workers. Yet hiring stumbled in April because many employers couldn't find as many as they needed. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Governor Brad Little’s plan to end special federal unemployment benefits to Idahoans next month could boot more than half of current filers off benefits.

For the week-ending May 8, 17,901 Idahoans claimed unemployment benefits — a 15% drop from the week before, and the largest single-week decline this year.

But of those receiving unemployment checks last week, 54% received only the federally-funded benefits, provided by the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for self-employed individuals or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which continues benefits for people who have exhausted their state-provided benefits.

Governor Little announced as of June 20, those Idahoans won’t be able to get that support, and the extra $300 each week provided to all filers by a third program, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), also goes away.

The state department of labor reports those programs paid Idahoans nearly $8 million last week alone, though that number has decreased as fewer people are filing.

People out-of-work in construction, office administration or management make up a combined one-third of all continuing claims paid by the state program. Restaurant and hotel workers make up about 8% of the state’s continuing claims.

It’s not clear what jobs were held by those now claiming extended or self-employed federal benefits. Idaho Department of Labor analyst Craig Shaul called that data unreliable.

Idaho’s unemployment benefit program provides up to 26 weeks of benefits. Shaul said there’s no readily-available data on how many people will soon max out their state benefits and, with the elimination of PEUC benefits in Idaho, have no federal safety net.

But the decline in claims does represent good news. First-time claims for unemployment fell drastically last week, to the lowest level of the pandemic.

Follow Troy Oppie on Twitter @GoodBadOppie for more local news.

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News. He's also heard Saturday nights on Boise State Public Radio Music's Jazz Conversations.