Breaking Down Billions in Unemployment Funding

By Jason Stein

Four of the federal relief bills provided some additional funding for the state’s jobless workers and unemployment programs at a critical time. The full extent of this funding will only be known after seeing the final tally of payments that are now eligible to be made through September 2021.

Yet the Department of Workforce Development provided a partial tally of more than $4 billion in federally funded benefits that have been paid out from March 1, 2020 to April 9, 2021. These benefits are all temporary and generally were first authorized by the CARES Act and then reauthorized by the CAA and ARPA, at times with some changes. By program, they are:

  • Regular unemployment benefits – The federal government took on making some payments that otherwise would have been paid by the state’s unemployment trust fund. Amount unknown.
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): An increase in unemployment benefits that was initially $600 per week from April 4 through July 25 of 2020 and is now $300 per week from Jan. 2 through Sept. 4 of 2021. This payment is made on top of regular state unemployment and other temporary federal benefits. $3.2 billion so far
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): A program providing up to 53 additional weeks of benefits to jobless workers who have exhausted their regular 26 weeks of state benefits. $333.8 million so far
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): A program providing 79 weeks of unemployment benefits to self-employed and certain other individuals who are not eligible for regular state jobless benefits. $259 million so far
  • Extended Benefits (EB): A program running from May through December 2020 that provided up to 13 weeks of additional benefits to workers who have exhausted other benefits. $8 million so far
  • Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC): A program providing from Jan. 2 to Sept. 4 of 2021 an additional $100 per week to workers who qualify for regular state jobless benefits but also had $5,000 in net self-employment earnings in the previous year. No payments were made during the period above since the program is getting started.
  • Lost Wages Assistance (LWA): A stopgap created through executive action by President Trump, this program provided an additional $300 a week payment similar to the FPUC for August and the first week of September 2020. $224.8 million so far

In addition to these benefit payments, the state also received millions in additional federal funding for the administration of its unemployment program, which relies on aging computer systems and has struggled to keep up with the massive volume of jobless claims.