TRENTON – Expanded unemployment insurance (UI) benefits established under the federal CARES Act in March 2020, and renewed by the Continued Assistance Act in December 2020 and again by the American Rescue Plan in March, are expiring Sept. 4.
Among the programs expiring Sept. 4 are: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provided unemployment benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors and others who are not typically eligible for benefits; Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extended unemployment payments to those who already exhausted regular unemployment benefits; and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which added a weekly supplemental payment to regular unemployment.
These programs are ending, and claimants will not be able to claim benefits under these programs for weeks after Sept. 4 regardless of whether a balance appears on their accounts. Claimants certifying for weeks prior to Sept. 4 will receive the enhanced benefits if found eligible for a claim that was filed before Sept. 4.
“New Jersey has continually used every program and tool in our arsenal to get as many benefits to as many claimants as quickly as possible,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a news release. “We understand these federally enhanced benefits have been a lifeline to our workforce and our economy during these trying times; our Department and our State will continue to support those in need, and assist those looking for work.”
Claimants who exhaust their 26 weeks of regular state unemployment benefits beyond Sept. 4 and have not yet collected state extended benefits will be transitioned to 13 weeks of state extended benefits, if eligible. These extended benefits were triggered in July 2020 due to the state’s unemployment rate. Claimants moved to state extended benefits will see “Extended Unemployment Benefits” as their claim status in their accounts.
Additionally, federally required reviews for new wages, which occur after one year, when a claim reaches its benefit year end, may result in a lower weekly benefit rate for some claimants starting on Sept. 5.
With the aid of the enhanced federal unemployment benefits programs, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) has paid $34 billion in benefits to more than 1.6 million claimants since March 2020, including to hundreds of thousands who would have been ineligible for benefits without the federal expansions.
More than two dozen states across the nation halted federal enhanced unemployment benefits months before the Sept. 4 expiration with the intention of spurring job gains. Several recent studies, including one published late last month by economists from Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Toronto, found that this move had little impact on employment.