Texans brace for an uncertain future as federal unemployment benefits end

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – Anthony Valva worked at an Austin-based theme park ticket reselling business when he was laid off this past March. “Once Disney closed down, they were like ‘we have no revenue anymore,’” Valva says. A month later, his benefits ran out and he joined the millions of Americans who relied on unemployment benefits.

One of those benefits, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, provides a $600 payment each week to Americans who have been made unemployed by the pandemic. This Friday, that payment ends for Texans, with the rest of the country following suit on July 31.

“State unemployment benefits will continue to get paid after the week of July 25, they simply won’t include the $600,” says Cisco Gamez with the Texas Workforce Commission. According to Valva, this isn’t a surprise.  “The Texas Workforce Commission’s been sending out plenty of emails saying, ‘it’s not up to us to cut these$600, it’s up to Congress,’” Valva says.

Texas Unemployment Benefits Programs

Valva was able to save his federal payment for a rainy day, knowing that his benefits would eventually end. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to save. The state has provided some additional options outside of its usual 26 weeks of unemployment benefits:

  • The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to people who are self-employed. It will be available until the week ending December 26, 2020.
  • The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) Program provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits to people who have exhausted regular benefits. It’s also available until the week ending December 26, 2020.
  • State Extended Benefits (EB) is currently triggered and can provide an additional 13 weeks of benefits for people who have exhausted regular benefits and PEUC benefits.
  • High Unemployment Period (HUP) is currently triggered and provides an additional seven weeks of benefits for people who have exhausted PUA and people who have exhausted regular benefits, PEUC and EB.

The state has paid $20.1 billion in unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic. The FPUC, the federal payment that is going away this week, accounts for more than half of those benefits at around $13.1 billion paid. The PUA program has paid $1.1 billion and the PEUC program has paid $318 million.

From July 12-22, 1,807,967 payments have been made by the Texas Workforce Commission. Since March 14, the organization has received 3.9 million claims.

Texas unemployment numbers

Across the country, the unemployment is hovering around 11%. Texas is doing a little better with an unemployment rate of 8.6%. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, jobs are available. The site has over 600,000 jobs listed on their site workintexas.com.

You can learn more about unemployment benefits programs here.

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