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Federal unemployment benefits programs end, leaving millions without aid

More than 2.4 million Michiganders have received unemployment benefits through COVID relief programs since March 2020.

LANSING, Mich. — Federal unemployment benefits are ending for millions of Americans as the delta variant continues to ravage communities across the country. 

In Michigan, workers who have been receiving jobless benefits through the CARES Act will see those programs end on Sept. 4. 

Programs that are ending include the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC). 

  • PUA provides benefits to workers who are not ordinarily eligible for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed, independent contractors and gig economy workers.
  • PEUC allowed up to 53 weeks of additional benefits to those who had exhausted their regular state claim.
  • PUC allowed an additional $300 per week to anyone receiving regular state or federal unemployment benefits. Although regular UI benefits will continue to be paid, the additional $300 PUC benefit will also end for those on regular unemployment insurance.
  • MEUC provides an additional $100 per week to claimants who have earned at least $5,000 in net self-employment income.

Since March 15, 2020, over 2.4 million Michiganders have received more than $38 billion in unemployment benefits, which has helped contribute to the state's economic recovery. 

"These federal programs provided much needed financial relief to those who experienced job losses as a result of the pandemic," Liza Estlund Olson, acting director of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA), said. "We want to make sure Michiganders who have been receiving these temporary benefits are aware of other resources available to help them get back on their feet and find new employment opportunities."

Credit: State of Michigan

Meanwhile, it is unclear what impact removing the benefit will have on the workforce. Many industries have a worker shortage, some employers claiming benefits like these as a barrier to hiring. 

"For some people, yes, this will be a catalyst to go back to work," said Brittany Lenertz, director of talent solutions at West Michigan Works!, "This is what they will need to do."

However, Lenertz said there are still many barriers for individuals entering, or reentering, the workforce. Health concerns over the lingering pandemic, for one. Also, many people retired, stayed home with children, or changed career paths in the last year and a half.

"I can't stress enough how much childcare I think is impacting families," said Lenertz.

For more information about the end of federal benefits or state assistance for those who are unemployed, go to www.Michigan.gov/UIA.

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