4.7 Million Workers Face Premature Cutoff of Pandemic Unemployment Programs

Three-quarters of people receiving unemployment in 22 states will be left with no jobless aid at all.

New estimate of Georgia’s unreported PEUC claims shows a total of 218,434 Georgians will lose all benefits June 26.

In March of 2021, after unemployed workers around the country led a hard-fought campaign to extend jobless aid, Congress enacted the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), reauthorizing the pandemic unemployment programs created by the CARES Act through September 6, 2021.

These programs have helped tens of millions of people and their families get through the worst economic crisis in over a century.

These programs have helped tens of millions of people and their families get through the worst economic crisis in over a century. In a single week last June, more than 33 million people received family-sustaining relief via federal pandemic unemployment programs.

Premature Cutoffs

Although the United States has come a long way toward recovery since last June, the crisis is far from over. As of May 29, 2021, more than 14.8 million people still needed some form of unemployment benefit—nearly twice the number who received payments when the pandemic programs began in late March 2020.[1]

Although the United States has come a long way toward recovery since last June, the crisis is far from over.

The May jobs report showed 9.3 million people unemployed, another 5.3 million only working part-time but wanting full-time work, and the economy still down 7.6 million jobs (or 5%) from pre-pandemic February 2020. Despite the still pressing need to support unemployed workers and their families, 26 governors—all but one of them Republican—are unilaterally ending pandemic unemployment payments early.

Although media attention has been focused on the cessation of the $300 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) supplement, it is especially critical to emphasize that 22 of the governors are cutting off all pandemic unemployment programs, including Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

While these premature, ill-advised, and cruel cessations of benefits will harm all workers who need them, the brunt of the impact will be felt by Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other people of color. Although states do not report demographic information on recipients of PEUC and PUA, over 46% of unemployment insurance (UI) recipients in the states ending the programs early are people of color, and we can reasonably assume that they also make up a disproportionate share of those receiving pandemic unemployment benefits.

NELP presents this data brief to demonstrate the depth and breadth of the havoc that these governors will wreak on their constituents with their unilateral actions. Although these governors have chosen to downplay the effects of their choices, three in four recipients of unemployment benefits will be prematurely and totally cut off from Congressionally authorized payments in the 22 states ending all pandemic programs early.

In this update, we include a first-ever estimate of 114,820 for the number of people in Georgia currently receiving federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) who will be cut off completely. Our estimate is based on an analysis of available data of federal funding to states for pandemic unemployment programs’ benefit payments.[2] We add the estimated 114,820 Georgians who will lose PEUC to the 103,614 Georgians who will lose Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments, and we arrive at a total of 218,434 Georgians will be left with no jobless aid as of June 26.

Georgia and Florida are the only two states that do not report PEUC claims and payments data to the U.S. Department of Labor. Florida, which has also not reported PUA data since last September, announced it will end the $300 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) supplement June 26, but maintain PUEC and PUA benefits “for the time being.” Our first-ever Florida estimates show 541,216 people currently receiving PEUC payments, and another 197,051 receiving PUA. Added to the 102,328 Floridians currently receiving regular state jobless aid, these estimates bring to 840,595 the total number of Floridians who will have their unemployment assistance cut by $300 per week.

We focus on the impact on unemployed workers and their families, but it is also worth noting that by refusing an estimated $22 billion in funds, these governors will also hamper their states’ economic recoveries by removing one of the best forms of economic stimulus available. Main Street businesses will also pay the price of these reckless and politically motivated actions.

Impact on Workers and Communities

  • For the 10 states that are ending pandemic unemployment programs June 26-27:
    • 3,137,786 people will be affected.
    • 8 states will cut off all pandemic jobless aid (Arkansas, Georgia, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah).
    • In those 8 states, 1,408,561 people will lose all jobless aid (44.8%), including 955,615 in Texas (83.1%) and an estimated 218,434 in Georgia (62.9%).
    • Florida and Ohio will end the weekly $300 FPUC supplement only, affecting an estimated 840,595 people in Florida and 455,379 people in Ohio.
  • Below are data for the 10 states with the most workers affected.


The immediate crisis for 4.7 million unemployed workers and their families is being driven by politically motivated attacks on the success of the CARES Act and ARPA pandemic unemployment insurance programs. But it need not have come to this.

For decades, it has been clear that the unemployment insurance program was in desperate need of reform. Wage replacement levels are wholly inadequate, and particularly paltry in far too many states. Many states have cut duration of benefits below the 26-week standard—a move that unfairly and disproportionately affects workers of color—and there are countless barriers to eligibility that don’t take into account the modern workforce or the growing share of low-wage work in our economy.

Congress must reauthorize the pandemic unemployment programs for as long as people need them, but even more important, it must make comprehensive UI reform a top priority this year—including enacting uniform national standards to address benefit adequacy, benefit duration (at least 26 to 30 weeks), and expanded eligibility so that more workers, including those too-long excluded, will be able to receive UI in good economic times and bad.

The ability of 26 governors to unilaterally shut down the very programs that were created to counteract the inadequacies of state UI programs should serve as powerful impetus to enact these reforms—and Congress cannot pass up the opportunity to do so this year.


[1] https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/docs/allprograms.xlsx.

[2] https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/docs/cares_act_funding_state.html

[3] https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/chariu.asp.

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