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Expanding State Extended Unemployment Benefits Could Protect 395,000 New Yorkers, But the Legislature Must Act Now


extended

The New York State Senate (photo: NY Senate Media Services)


New York can take precautionary measures now to protect unemployed residents in the event that Congress allows federal unemployment insurance programs to expire on Labor Day. This can be done by the State Legislature passing a bill that ensures the state’s Extended Benefits program remains in place under the total unemployment rate activation trigger when 50% state funding is required.

Right now, of the nine states (plus DC) with their Extended Benefits programs turned on, only four will continue beyond Labor Day. The majority of these state programs will shut down because the federal government will resume covering half the cost instead of providing full funding.

While neighboring states Connecticut and New Jersey will rightfully keep supporting long-term unemployed workers through the pandemic recovery, New York will have its Extended Benefits program shut off

That is unless legislators, in concert with incoming Governor Kathy Hochul, work to keep the program active. 

According to the most recent U.S. Department of Labor numbers, 725,000 New Yorkers were enrolled in the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program and 10,000 in the state’s Extended Benefits (EB) program the week ending July 31. The way that these programs function is that workers exhausting their PEUC benefits transition onto EB. However, if the state EB program also turns off on September 6, hundreds of thousands unemployed New Yorkers will lose a key source of income.

A lot of suffering can be avoided by following the policy structure implemented in the adjacent states. Assuming there’s approximately a (1) 20% reduction in people enrolled in PEUC and EB by Labor Day relative to July 31 and that (2) one third of those enrolled in PEUC already exhausted EB eligibility (a high estimate), we should expect that 395,000 more New Yorkers will continue receiving EB funds for weeks after September 6. That is if the state adopts the necessary provisions. 

State

Current PEUC enrollment*

Estimated PEUC enrollment by Labor Day

PEUC enrollees estimated to be EB-eligible by Labor Day

Current EB enrollment*

Estimated EB enrollment by Labor Day

Projected people retained on UI by expanding EB

NY

725,389

580,311

386,874

10,441

8,353

395,227

*Not seasonally adjusted continued claims for the week ending July 31 are used.

This won’t protect all workers expected to lose benefits when federal programs expire, but a significant number of people can still be helped if the Legislature acts now.

New York elected officials should treat this with urgency considering that state UI systems have struggled with efficiently processing changes. The policy approach to continue supporting long-term unemployed workers through the pandemic recovery is there, but implementation will take time. 

Extending federal programs is more straightforward, but state lawmakers should not bank on that occurring. Adopting the additional EB rule and preparing to transition eligible people to the program will be an administrative effort that is well worth the cost - New Yorkers looking for jobs and their families will be better protected and able to put food on the table.

State legislators should do everything possible to insure unemployed workers for more weeks.

***
Will Raderman is a Research Fellow at Boston University School of Public Health. On Twitter @RadWill_.

***
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