As the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) anticipates a decision on the future of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress continues to debate the specifics of funding allocation and program timeframes. On Dec. 31, 2020, all federal CARES Act unemployment insurance (UI) programs are scheduled to end. After the programs end, the GDOL will not be able to continue to pay benefits for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The last week payable for PUA and PEUC is week ending Dec. 26, 2020 for individual-filed claims and week ending date Dec. 30, 2020 for employer-filed claims.
“There is no use speculating over what could potentially be passed by Congress, and at this point, we still have not heard anything from our delegation on what is actually in the bill,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “While Congress continues to deliberate on the future of these programs, we will focus on issuing payments to ALL eligible Georgians as the original CARES Act comes to a close.”
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 week ending dates after Dec. 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 GDOL has paid $16.3 billion in state and federal benefits since the beginning of the pandemic in March of this year. Last week, the GDOL issued $161 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, 4,131,498 regular UI initial claims have been processed, more than the last nine years combined (3.8 million). Last week, regular UI initial claims totaled 33,003, up 13,850 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, 345,553 PUA claims have been processed. Due to federal guidelines, the PUA 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 12/5/2020, the sectors with the most weekly regular UI initial claims processed included Accommodation and Food Services, 7,075, Manufacturing, 6,376, Administrative and Support Services, 3,370, Health Care and Social Assistance, 2,329, and Retail Trade, 1,847.
The number of initial unemployment claims filed throughout the United States for the week ending Dec. 5 was 853,000, an increase of 137,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 716,000.
Of the more than 166,000 jobs currently listed on EmployGeorgia, over half advertise annual salaries that exceed $40,000. The GDOL offers online resources for finding career opportunities, building a resume, and assisting with other reemployment needs.