Pandemic unemployment benefits halted

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By Jessie Wagoner

 

All COVID-19 related federal unemployment benefits came to an end on Sept. 4. The benefits, which were a part of the CARES Act enacted in 2020, were halted by federal law. 

The following federal unemployment programs that have been halted include: 

  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provided an additional $300 weekly payment for any claimant who is eligible for at least $1 of an underlying unemployment compensation. 
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provided benefits for claimants who are unemployed as a direct result of COVID-19 and not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or PEUC, including those who are self-employed or are gig workers. 
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides an extension of benefits after a claimant exhausts regular unemployment compensation benefits. 

Many Kansans have been relying on the additional benefits throughout the pandemic. However, in McPherson County, the unemployment rate is relatively low. According to the Kansas Department of Labor, McPherson County has an unemployment rate of just 3.4 percent. The national unemployment rate is currently 5.4 percent, with the Kansas average being just 3.8 percent. 

With such a low unemployment rate, it will be a challenge for employers to fill open positions, even with the reduction in unemployment benefits. While the number of people seeking jobs is low, there continues to be an increase in the number of new jobs being created. 

“Kansas employers continued hiring in July, adding 6,000 jobs over-the-month,” labor economist Todd Rilinger said. “The majority of this increase can be seen in the manufacturing industry, which added 3,200 jobs. 

Beginning this week, the state’s Regular Unemployment Insurance will be the only jobless program available in the state. However, other federal assistance programs, including the expanded Child Tax Credit monthly payments and the expanded SNAP, or food stamp program, continue.

Additionally, applications are now being accepted for Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA). KERA funding is available for Kansans who are having trouble paying their rent, utility or Internet bills due to the pandemic. Those who qualify can receive up to 12 months of assistance. To apply, visit https://kshousingcorp.org/.