Federal aid ending for hundreds of thousands in PA

HARRISBURG (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians will lose federal pandemic unemployment benefits after this week, including an extra $300 per week, an extra 13 weeks of benefits, and benefits for the self-employed.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration said Monday that there are sources of help for people who need it once their unemployment benefits run out, including federal rental assistance through counties, Medicaid, food stamps, and temporary cash-assistance for low-income families.

Federal jobless assistance was first approved last year when the pandemic hit and jobless claims skyrocketed in Pennsylvania to record highs amid COVID 19-related shutdowns.

In the last two weeks of August, more than 650,000 people were receiving the extra $300, according to figures from the state Department of Labor and Industry.

About 395,000 of them were in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for freelancers or the self-employed and almost 178,000 were receiving an extra 13 weeks of assistance through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

About 80,000 people were receiving benefits through the state’s regular 26-week unemployment compensation program, which will continue running, but without the extra $300 federal benefit on top.

The American Rescue Plan Act, signed by President Joe Biden in March, extended those federal benefits and set them to expire after this week.