Throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic, people who are unemployed have received an additional weekly payment from the federal government. At first, the payment was $600 but it was later reduced to $300.
But over Labor Day weekend, nearly 18 months after the start of the pandemic, data from Google Trends shows searches for “when is the last 300 unemployment payment” spiked.
Has the $300 weekly federal unemployment payment ended?
Yes, the $300 weekly unemployment payment from the federal government has ended. The extra benefit expired on Sept. 6, 2021.
WHAT WE FOUND
On Aug. 19, 2021, the heads of the Department of Treasury and the Department of Labor sent a letter to Congress saying the extra unemployment assistance from the federal government would expire on Sept. 6.
“The temporary $300 boost in benefits will expire on September 6th, as planned,” the letter said. “As President Biden has said, the boost was always intended to be temporary and it is appropriate for that benefit boost to expire.”
During a speech in June 2021, Biden said it “makes sense” for the extra federal $300-a-week benefit to expire in September. White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Sept. 3 that the Biden administration was not reevaluating whether to extend the extra federal benefit and that it would expire.
More than 20 states had already stopped providing the extra federal benefit prior to the expiration on Sept. 6, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
In the letter sent to Congress, the heads of the Department of Treasury and Department of Labor said $350 billion was allocated to state and local governments as part of the American Rescue Plan, passed in March 2021, and could be used “to cover the cost of providing assistance to unemployed workers beyond Sept. 6.”
About 8.4 million people were unemployed in the U.S. as of August 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While there has been a recovery since 23.1 million people were unemployed in April 2020 – most as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – employment hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. In February 2020 there were approximately 152.5 million people employed in the U.S. – about 5.3 million more than the 147.2 million people employed in August 2021.
The extra weekly unemployment assistance from the federal government was first provided in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the CARES Act, people received an extra $600-a-week benefit from the federal government for the weeks they were unemployed between April 5, 2020, and July 31, 2020, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. President Donald Trump issued an executive order in August 2020 that provided an extra $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit through mid-September 2020. Legislation passed in December 2020 again provided $300 weekly federal unemployment payments. Then in March 2021, the American Rescue Plan extended the $300-per-week federal payment through Sept. 6, 2021.
In addition to the $300 weekly federal unemployment payment, pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA), which was available to self-employed workers who were not eligible for regular unemployment benefits, also expired on Sept. 6.