Extended Unemployment Benefits Coming to an Abrupt Halt

September 3, 2021 4:36 PM

Thousands of our members have been relying on multiple federally funded programs extending and supplementing unemployment during the COVID-19 crisis. The federal and state governments have extended unemployment well beyond the normal limit of 26 weeks of benefits during this crisis. However, on August 19th, President Biden announced that the federal government would not be extending these programs and he urged states with high unemployment rates – which include New York and New Jersey – to use the federal relief money they have received to extend unemployment benefits. Unfortunately, and contrary to our hopes, New York State has not done so in a meaningful way.

While New Jersey initially announced it would not use federal money to extend the $300-a-week supplement, as of today, the New Jersey Department of Labor has clarified that the State’s extended unemployment benefits program will continue. Meanwhile the New York State Governor’s office has only commented that “No decision has been made at this time,” and as of today, the State has not taken any steps to extend benefits. This means that in New York, not only will the $300-a-week federal supplement end next week, but so will the additional 13 weeks of extended benefits that should have carried many of our laid off members into the fall. Even though these extended benefits are designed to continue until state-wide unemployment levels drop to levels which are not expected to be reached for several months, because of the failure to allocate federal funds, the New York State DOL has advised that extended benefits will end next week.

This means that next week (the week beginning September 5th) is the last week that anyone who has already collected at least 26 weeks of traditional unemployment can certify in New York. This applies to virtually all our laid off members, most of whom have been collecting unemployment for over 75 weeks (since March 2020). Everyone in this situation can and should certify for unemployment the week beginning September 5th, in order to collect their last check.

This failure by both the state and federal government to fund unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of workers who are out of work as a result of the COVID- 19 crisis is unconscionable. This is exacerbated by the fact that they should have communicated their intentions much more clearly and much earlier.

Take action – Urge New York to Act Before It's Too Late

In New York, where the State has neither agreed nor outright rejected the possibility of extending benefits, our Union has raised this issue with the Governor and the State Legislature. While they’ve promised to look into it, as of right now, these benefits are ending. As part of our efforts, we need to show elected officials how the upcoming loss of benefits will impact thousands of hardworking New Yorkers. Take action and sign our petition to extend unemployment here.

Find Resources:

This summer, our Union launched a number of programs to assist our members who are laid off in the next phase of this crisis, including registering members with our Hiring Enforcement Office, providing financial assistance to members facing eviction and foreclosure, compiling resources to assist members with their job search, and helping members prepare a professional cover letter and resume. Read more about these programs on our website: https://hotelworkers.org/article/new-resources- for-laid-off-members

You may also qualify for public assistance programs offered by New York City, New York State, and New Jersey.

New York City residents can visit the City’s “Access NYC” website to answer a brief survey and find a list of city, state, and federal programs and benefits that you may be eligible for including healthcare programs, housing relief, childcare subsidies and food assistance programs. Click here to be redirected.

New York State residents can use a similar tool on New York State’s “Find Services” website to search for state and federal benefits. By answering a few questions about your household, the website will show you a list of the public benefits and services for which you may be eligible including healthcare programs, food assistance, and cash benefit programs. Click here to be redirected. 

New Jersey residents can find a list of public assistance programs on nj.gov. Click here to be redirected.