"Today all pandemic UI programs (PUA, PEUC, and FPUC) expired due to extreme negligence by President Biden and Congress. They have abandoned their constituents in a time of need in order to play a moderate political game that they will never win. It is a failure of leadership, especially for President Biden and any lawmaker who claims to put workers first.
How can the President endorse ending pandemic UI programs when he has not ended the national state of emergency? It has been proven over and over that pandemic UI programs do not disincentive work and ending programs raised worker panic, not employment in the states that ended programs early. The delta surge is causing renewed indoor restrictions, event and show cancellations, an abysmal August jobs report, and hesitancy about the safety of in person school and work. In July of 2020, Congress failed to extend the critical FPUC program. What happened? 8 MILLION more people were shoved into poverty. Now they have allowed all programs to expire, abandoning over 30 million Americans before they have had a chance to recover. Are they expecting a different result?
President Biden and the US Congress are not only making a callous choice in allowing these programs to expire, they are also making a frankly stupid move for economic recovery, sucking $5 billion in spending out of the economy each week. The policy choice also completely ignores the fact that unemployment for Black workers actually rose in August from 8.2% to 8.8%
We are very proud of all of the work everyone at our organization and all of the workers, partners, volunteers, and advocates have done to keep these programs going through expirations in July 2020, December 2020, and March 2021. We have all fought hard and your work is the reason programs lasted this long. This fight has proven time and time again that artificial cut off dates are bad policy and current UI benefit amounts don't adequately keep people afloat. Workers should not be having to beg for access to programs that are built from their tax dollars. Programs should be extended based on economic triggers with automatic stabilizers in place. This is the time to fix the unemployment system.
But we cannot pivot our attention entirely to the system, focusing on improvements that will be made slowly over the next several years. We must extend programs now, through this current crisis as we rebuild the system. We cannot leave people behind in this recovery.
Pandemic UI programs should continue (and be reinstated in all states) until the pandemic is over. The end of the pandemic for workers will be marked by lowered case numbers, the recovery of all pre-pandemic jobs (we are still short 5.7 million jobs from February 2020), AND an unemployment rate comparable to February 2020. The current unemployment rate of 5.4% is misleading and leaves out millions of workers. The actual unemployment rate is 8.1%. That is not a rate that indicates we have a recovered American workforce.
It is unacceptable that our federal government has allowed programs to expire. They may go quiet as millions suffer, but we will not."
Stephanie Freed, Executive Director, ExtendPUA.org
Continue to reach out to your legislators at the federal and state level with tools at ExtendPUA.org. Tell your stories. Tell them to reinstate programs. If you have become reemployed, remember how much of a struggle program expiration deadlines were for you, and reach out to your legislators on behalf of the millions who are still struggling.
Here are just a few of the stories that have been submitted to us in the last week.
We spent a lot of last week working with press to get our stories out there.
Here are some of the articles featuring ExtendPUA advocates that were printed. We are proud to connect these workers to reporters in order to amplify their stories. We are also so very proud of the people who spoke up; thank you for your bravery, vulnerability, and candor. And thank you to the reporters printing these stories as well, although, those that don't mention the advocacy have not told the full story.
You can view all of our press coverage here.
You can join our press list by emailing Info@ExtendPUA.org with your name, contact info, and a short blurb about your story we can send to press.
If you are struggling and in need of assistance please check ExtendPUA.org/help for resources near you.
If you are struggling with a specific claim issue, our suggestions for help are at ExtendPUA.org/claimhelp.
The ExtendPUA.org Team