Some unemployment benefits will end Feb. 20
Oregon's declining three-month unemployment rate will mean the end of benefits to some people under one federal program.
But the acting director of the Oregon Employment Department says that after the program ends Feb. 20, some of them will be shifted onto another federal program that will continue into the spring.
David Gerstenfeld advises people to continue to file for their benefits weekly.
What is ending in Oregon is the Extended Benefits program, which kicks in when a state's three-month average unemployment rate is at 6.5% or higher but below 8%. Although Oregon's rate went up a notch, from 6% in November to 6.4% in December, Gerstenfeld said the average has now fallen below the 6.5% average threshold.
That program added 13 weeks of federal benefits onto regular state benefits of 26 weeks.
What is continuing in Oregon is the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which Congress recently extended by 11 weeks. Gerstenfeld said some people will be moved to this federal program when Extended Benefits end Feb. 20.
Claimants will be paid retroactively. They may face delays because the switchover from one program to the other will require staff work.
Gerstenfeld said if Oregon's average three-month unemployment rate increases to 6.5% or greater, the Employment Department is empowered to restart the Extended Benefits program without waiting 13 weeks. Gov. Kate Brown has approved the required authorization in advance.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation is scheduled to end its 11-week extension after March 13. (Some benefits may be paid through April.) President Joe Biden has proposed to extend that deadline to the end of the federal budget year on Sept. 30. That proposal is part of the $1.9 trillion economic recovery plan that is pending in Congress.
Also part of Biden's plan are extensions of federal unemployment benefits for self-employed and gig workers in a program known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and continued federal support for Work Share programs, under which participating employers pay 60% or 80% of workers' pay and the difference is made up through unemployment benefits. Work Share normally taps the state unemployment trust fund, but since the start of the pandemic 10 months ago, federal funds have gone to those payments instead.
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