The extra $600 weekly boost to unemployment insurance is set to expire by the end of the month, though the last week for which it can be claimed ends Saturday, July 25.
The discontinuation of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, brought about by the CARES Act in late March, comes with other changes to unemployment benefits. Beginning on July 26, most people collecting unemployment insurance in the state will need to resume the search for work and register for employment with Job Service North Dakota. The changes to unemployment come at a time when Congress has yet to hammer out a deal on the next wave of stimulus.
FPUC is the program that provides the additional weekly benefit for those who lost jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“As we work toward economic recovery and restoring consumer confidence in North Dakota, restoring a strong workforce is another important part of saving livelihoods,” said Gov. Doug Burgum in a July 8 press release.
One day after FPUC is discontinued, people not returning to their employers, after having been temporarily laid off, will need to register with Job Service and resume the search for work. Benefit recipients will need to complete three work-search activities per week, such as visiting, calling and contacting employers through the internet. Earlier this month, Burgum rescinded work-search and Job Service registration exemptions he put in place in late March.
“The suspension of registration and work search requirements was always meant to be temporary,” Burgum stated in the release. “Reintroduction of these requirements will assist employees and employers to return to work and continue a North Dakota Smart Restart.”
According to a July 15 Job Service release, people returning to an employer who temporarily laid them off don’t need to register and search for work. The same goes for union members who get their jobs through hiring halls.
Self-employed individuals, “gig-workers” and others not qualified for state benefits, but who receive them through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, must complete a waiver to avoid work-search requirements. The waiver is for self-employed people who have not yet restarted their regular business activities.
FPUC is the only program set to expire this week. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extends benefits for 13 weeks after a person has exhausted traditional benefits, will continue until Dec. 26. The same goes for the PUA program.
A July 20 report in The Washington Post notes congressional leaders are in talks with President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about a relief package. House Democrats, who passed a $3 trillion relief bill in May, are at odds with Senate Republicans over the price tag of the package. Those $600-per-week payments loom large in the debate, with some Republican leaders saying the payments are a disincentive to return to work.
In North Dakota, more than $568 million in benefits have been paid out since March 15. Nearly 100,000 regular unemployment claims have been filed, as have roughly 40,000 claims split between the PUA and PEUC programs. For the week ending July 11, there were more than 32,000 continued unemployment claims in the state.