On December 26, 2020, all federal unemployment insurance (UI) programs signed into law with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act are slated to end for hundreds of thousands of Georgians. The law signed on March 27 included additional unemployment insurance for many workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including workers who are not ordinarily eligible for unemployment benefits. After the end of the program, the Georgia Department of Labor will not be able to continue to pay benefits for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), or State Extended Benefits. The last week payable for PUA, PEUC, and SEB is week ending December 26, 2020 for individual-filed claims and week ending date December 30, 2020 for employer-filed claims.
“We will continue to process and adjudicate all of the claims we receive paying all eligible benefits as quickly as possible,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Congress will decide if a new program will be implemented or extensions will be put in place.”
Claimants receiving regular state UI will continue to receive benefits for weeks they are found eligible up to 26 weeks. Claimants who have yet to exhaust all benefits provided by the CARES Act will not receive the balance of their funds for any weeks after December 26. Claimants are encouraged to continue to request benefits after the programs end in the event Congress passes new legislation or extends these programs. If additional federal legislation is passed, the new programs will be implemented or current programs extended and updates will be made on the GDOL website and social platforms.
The Georgia Department of Labor has paid over $16 billion in state and federal benefits since the beginning of the pandemic in March of this year. Last week, the GDOL issued $120 million in benefits, which include regular unemployment and federally funded Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) supplements, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and State Extended Benefits.
As of the week ending March 21, 2020, 4,098,495 regular UI initial claims have been processed, more than the last nine years combined (3.8 million). Last week, regular UI initial claims totaled 19,183, down 9,905 over the week. The GDOL has worked diligently to dramatically decrease the amount of time it takes to release payments and is now processing regular UI claims within two weeks of a claim file date. All eligible payments are released for claims that do not require additional determinations. If a claimant has been fired or quit his/her job, a review will be necessary to determine eligibility. This review could potentially delay payments.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 344,929 PUA claims have been processed. Due to federal guidelines, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is limited to 39 weeks of benefits. Claimants who began receiving benefits at the beginning of the program (2/2/2020) are now exhausting those benefits with no extension currently in place.
From week ending 11/28/2020, the sectors with the most weekly regular UI initial claims processed included Accommodation and Food Services, 5,716, Administrative and Support Services, 2,059, Manufacturing, 1,853, Retail Trade, 1,411, and Health Care and Social Assistance, 1,315.
The number of initial unemployment claims filed throughout the United States for the week ending November 28 was 712,000, a decrease of 75,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 787,000.