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For millions of unemployed workers, federal benefits are set to disappear earlier than expected.
About 4.1 million unemployed workers in 25 states could lose assistance as states opt out from federal unemployment programs that were extended during the pandemic. Those benefits are due to expire on Sept. 6 under the American Rescue Plan passed in March, but some may lose access as soon as June 12.
This means unemployed workers in these states could lose nearly three months worth of benefits they previously counted on. “On average, we calculate people will lose $6,000 in benefits,” says Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation.
So far, 25 states plan to opt out of expanded federal benefits programs early. Governors in states ending the extra benefits cited concerns about the extra money preventing workers from applying for available jobs — a claim many have disputed, saying employers should instead raise pay to attract workers.
The affected programs include the $300 per week federal supplement (PUC), benefits for gig workers not usually eligible for unemployment insurance (PUA), and assistance for the long-term unemployed who have already surpassed the standard number of weeks alloted for state benefits (PEUC).
One in four workers relied on some form of unemployment assistance during the pandemic, according to a report by The Century Foundation, a labor policy think tank. Today, 9.8 million workers remain unemployed, and 4.2 million of those qualify as long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks or more).
Which States Will End Federal Unemployment Benefits Early?
Here are the states that have declared an end to the extended unemployment benefits, and when they expire:
- Alabama: June 19
- Alaska: June 12
- Arizona: July 10*
- Arkansas: June 26
- Florida: June 26
- Georgia: June 26
- Idaho: June 19
- Indiana: July 19
- Iowa: June 12
- Maryland: July 3
- Mississippi: June 12
- Missouri: 12
- Montana: June 27*
- Nebraska: June 19
- New Hampshire: June 19
- North Dakota: June 19
- Ohio: June 26
- Oklahoma: June 26
- South Carolina: June 26
- South Dakota: June 26
- Tennessee: July 3
- Texas: June 26
- Utah: June 26
- West Virginia: June 19
- Wyoming: June 19
*Arizona and Montana are offering additional stipends or return-to-work bonuses with the loss of expanded benefits.
What You Can Do
Like other benefits cliffs over the past year, cutting expanded benefits prematurely leaves many unemployed workers vulnerable.
If you’re an unemployed worker in a state planning to end extended federal benefits in the coming weeks, remain in close contact with your local unemployment office for any updates and to continue receiving any benefits that you may still qualify for. These offices can also offer resources for job re-entry programs and training opportunities.
Remember, the programs set to expire Sept. 6 — if not cancelled sooner by your state — are just for the extended federal benefits set in place during the pandemic. You can still qualify for your state’s normal unemployment benefits if you lose your job or remain unemployed.
There are also still pandemic-related safety nets to help with financial hardship. The CDC’s latest guidance extends the eviction moratorium until at least June 30. After that you may still qualify for rental assistance depending on your state. A handful of states are still offering utility forgiveness, as well.
If you owe debts, contact your issuers and lenders about forbearance or assistance programs you may qualify for. Food assistance programs like SNAP and TANF can help supplement your spending on necessities. And if affordable childcare is an obstacle keeping you from returning to work, you may qualify for assistance or subsidized care through state and local initiatives.