Virginians who were counting on 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits amid the pandemic will see those payments go away effective Saturday.
The Virginia Employment Commission announced Wednesday that the state’s extended benefits program would end this week. The unemployment picture has improved, so the U.S. Department of Labor is ending the program in the state.
Through the program, Virginians who had exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits, as well as any Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, could receive an additional 13 weeks of what they were entitled to originally. However, people who had more weeks of eligibility remaining will not receive payments past Nov. 21.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation is set to expire the week ending Dec. 26.
The federal government funds half of the costs to pay out extended benefits, and the U.S. Department of Labor determines when extended benefits begin and end based on certain unemployment rate indicators.
Virginia’s extended benefits program began May 31 when its 13-week insured unemployment rate had risen above 5% (to 5.58%) and exceeded 120% of the prior two years' average rates for the same 13-week time period.
As of Nov. 15, the 13-week insured unemployment rate in Virginia had fallen to 4.66%, below the threshold for the program.
The insured unemployment rate, which measures the number of people collecting unemployment benefits relative to the number of people in the labor force, is different than the total unemployment rate. That rate was 6.2% in Virginia as of September. The insured unemployment rate doesn’t account for people who are out of work and had exhausted all of their benefits, hadn’t sought benefits in the first place or weren’t eligible.
Virginia was the latest of 16 states to have had the extended benefits cut off. It wasn’t immediately clear how many people are receiving extended benefits in the state.
Before the pandemic, Virginia had last offered extended benefits to unemployed workers in May 2011.
If the unemployment rate worsens, extended benefits can’t return to Virginia for at least 13 weeks.
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