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Federal unemployment benefits have ended. Here’s what that means for millions of Californians.

People at an unemployment office
California will see close to 2.2 million workers losing unemployment aid.
(Associated Press)

Federal unemployment benefit programs, which helped keep households financially afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, came to an end Saturday, leaving many Americans — including millions of Californians — without income support.

Four federally funded programs under the CARES Act, directed toward relieving the financial burdens caused by the pandemic, expired in California and nationwide, while the Federal-State Extended Duration program extension ends Sept. 11. Those programs include:

  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), or Pandemic Additional Compensation (PAC): Provides additional financial aid to those already receiving state unemployment benefits, including additional weekly payments of $300.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): Extends unemployment aid to contractors, part-time or self-employed workers, gig employees, or anyone who does not qualify for state unemployment benefits.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): Provides an additional $100 payment to workers who have received regular pay from an employer, earned more than $5,000 in self-employed income and have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits.
  • Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC): Provides weekly payments of $100 to those who qualify for supplemental unemployment benefits from the above programs.

An estimated 7.5 million Americans are expected to lose unemployment benefits starting next week, the Century Foundation has determined . California will experience the highest loss of these benefits, with close to 2.2 million workers losing aid, according to California’s Employment Development Department.

A petition started on Change.org calling on Gov. Gavin Newson to extend California’s pandemic unemployment benefits has already reached over 18,000 signatures. President Biden’s administration has called on state officials to use emergency coronavirus funds to provide additional financial assistance to residents affected by the loss of these federal programs, although state labor departments across the nation have said that they will not be extending benefits, including California.

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A spokesperson for the EDD said claimants began receiving notice in August that their benefits were ending as of Sept 4.

“We are sending claimants whose federal benefits are ending a second round of notices this month, with links to other vital benefit programs that continue beyond Sept. 4,” the department said in an email to this reporter.

According to the EDD’s website, the department has received more than 24 million claims for unemployment benefits since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. As of last week, the department had received approximately 59,755 initial claims for unemployment benefits, just as federal unemployment programs were coming to an end, while more than 194,000 claims have been backlogged as of Aug. 21.

Californians currently receiving federal unemployment benefits may still be eligible to qualify for state benefit programs funded by the American Rescue Plan and California Comeback Plan, including:

  • CalWORKS: Provides cash aid to eligible families with children.
  • CalFresh: Provides food assistance to individuals and families through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
  • HousingIsKey: Provides up to 100% financial assistance for owed rent and utilities for qualified renters and landlords.
  • CoveredCA: Provides free or reduced health insurance coverage to qualified residents and small businesses.

Eligible California residents may also qualify for up to $1,100 from the second round of Golden Gate Stimulus checks through the Employment Development Department.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the EDD has paid out more than $169 billion in unemployment benefits to Californians.


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