Over 2M Californians Will No Longer Receive Unemployment Benefits – What Are Other Options?

The federal pandemic unemployment benefits in California will expire on Sept. 4, and it is expected to affect over 2 million Californians. It was supposed to expire last year, but it was extended. The expiration next week, however, is likely to be for good, reports say.

California is the state where most people will lose benefits that have helped them during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, the Employment Development Department (EDD) warns that Californians receiving this benefit should be ready. They further recommended that those who are receiving this financial assistance should start seeking employment again.

Former EDD director Michael Bernick, however, pointed out that getting employed is not that easy in California. Over three million people have no jobs now, and the unemployment rate is at 7.6 percent. Bernick shared, “It’s not such an easy process to say, well we have 3 million on unemployment, and we have all these jobs, and people can immediately fill them. It’s not an easy match in terms of location, in terms of skills, in terms of aptitudes.”

Despite the expiration of four federal unemployment compensation programs, eligible people may still claim the weeks of payment prior to the expiration. The programs that can have a retroactive effect are Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program, and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program.

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Under the PUA program, it provides income support to those who do not normally qualify for state jobless aid. It includes gig workers and people who cannot work yet because they had to care for dependents or children during the pandemic. The PEUC program will allow for extra weeks of unemployment aid for those who have already exhausted their regular benefits.

The MEUC program, on the other hand, provides an extra $100 weekly for those who have income from both part-time wage employment and self-employment. Payments can be retroactive back to December 2020. As for the FPUC program, it gives those eligible $300 financial assistance.

Although the federal pandemic unemployment benefits are set to end this September, Californians will still have regular state unemployment insurance payments and other financial assistance programs. These programs include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), rental assistance, low-cost health insurance, and cash aid for families with children.