Jobless benefits extended another 13 weeks

HARLINGEN — The Texas Workforce Commission has announced unemployed Texas workers will be eligible for extended benefits of 13 weeks due to COVID-19.

The extended jobless pay will be available for unemployed workers effective the week of July 4. Jobless workers whose benefits may have ended then will now see them extended.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), passed as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, previously extended unemployment benefits for 13 weeks starting March 29.

“EB are available to workers who have exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits during periods of high unemployment and are calculated per state,” the workforce commission said. “Texas’ unemployment rate is currently 12.8 percent, exceeding the 5 percent threshold to trigger the extension.”

Cameron County’s jobless rate as of April stands at 17.4 percent, which is 7 percent higher than in March. In April 2019, the rate was at 4.7 percent.

The national jobless rate is 14.4 percent, the workforce commission said.

Traditional unemployment insurance offers jobless claimants up to 26 weeks of benefits. The federal CARES Act, however, provides the PEUC benefits for an extra 13 weeks and provides an additional $600 per week to claimants.

The CARES Act also expands the traditional pool of eligible workers to include the self-employed, contract/gig workers and others previously ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Since the week ending March 13, the workforce commission has received three million initial claims and paid out $9.7 billion in unemployment benefits.