Pennsylvania Governor Sends Letter Urging Congress to Extend Federal Programs for Unemployed Workers

With hundreds of thousands of workers in Pennsylvania relying on several federal unemployment programs that are set to expire at the end of the month, Governor Tom Wolf sent a letter today to the state’s Congressional delegation urging the federal government to continue the programs through 2021.

“The number of COVID-19 cases is surging now and expected to continue increasing in the weeks to come, endangering both the public and economy,” said Gov. Wolf. “I strongly urge you, our congressional delegation, to consider how important the CARES Act has been to our nation and our state in helping businesses and workers and in preventing further contraction of the economy, and to act swiftly to extend these programs.”

The governor’s letter outlines four recommended actions:

  • Extend Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Through 2021: PUA provides unemployment benefits to workers who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, lack sufficient work history, or otherwise do not qualify for regular Unemployment Compensation (UC) or Extended Benefits (EB). PUA has provided more than $6.5 billion to Pennsylvania households and the economy.
  • Extend Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) Through 2021: PEUC provides up to 13 weeks of additional unemployment assistance to those who exhausted their benefits. PEUC has added $846.1 million to households in Pennsylvania.
  • Renew Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): FPUC, which expired on July 31, 2020, provided $16.1 billion to eligible individuals through an additional $600 per week on top of their weekly UC benefit.
  • Extend No-interest Loans to the UC Trust Fund Through 2021: Many states are borrowing from the federal government to pay the increased need for UC benefits. Pennsylvania has borrowed $618 million in loans that will begin accruing interest on Jan. 1, 2021 if the no-interest loan program expires. Extending the no-interest loans to states is critical to avoid significant increases in employer taxes and assessments as more Pennsylvanians are expected to need the benefits to afford housing, food and other basic needs.

Since March, the Department of Labor & Industry has paid more than $31.6 billion in total unemployment benefits.