Business

Iowa Workforce Development anticipates gap in federal unemployment benefits

Programs provided unemployed Iowans with $339 billion since April

New claims in Iowa rose from 6,526 to 7,645 and continuing claims rose from 38,118 to 38,318. (Associated Press)
New claims in Iowa rose from 6,526 to 7,645 and continuing claims rose from 38,118 to 38,318. (Associated Press)

Iowa Workforce Development anticipates a gap in federal unemployment benefits that are set to expire Dec. 26 — regardless of whether the federal government passes a stimulus bill before the program ends.

After a potential bill is signed, IWD still will need to wait for guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor before issuing federal benefits.

That’s likely to result in a payment gap lasting “an unknown period of time,” according to a news release.

“We will work diligently to implement the necessary changes as soon as we possibly can,” IWD said in the news release.

“We will have limited resources available to answer customer service calls over the holiday season.”

Two programs set to expire — the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation — have combined to provide Iowans with about $339 billion since going into effect.

Congress passed a bill with almost $900 billion in stimulus, but President Donald Trump asked Congress in a video tweeted Tuesday night to amend the $600 stimulus checks to be $2,000 while eliminating “wasteful spending and much more.”

The anticipated gap in benefits come as unemployment claims increase in Iowa.

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New claims rose from 6,526 to 7,645 — a 17 percent increase — the week between Dec. 13 and Dec. 19.

Continuing claims rose from 38,118 to 38,318, an increase of less than a half-percent.

It comes after new and continuing decreased the week of Dec. 12 but increased the week of Dec. 5.

More than two-thirds of claims were not related to coronavirus, IWD said. Winter months often have higher unemployment numbers because of seasonal layoffs.

Construction was the largest source of claims with 2,045, followed by manufacturing with 1,005, and self-employed and independent contractors with 753.

Administrative, support, waste management and remediation services had 710. Accommodation and food services had 436.

The claims resulted in $12.2 million in standard unemployment benefits, $4.3 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and $7.4 in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

Comments: (319) 398-8394; john.steppe@thegazette.com

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