About 20,000 Virginians losing extended federal unemployment benefits this week


Virginians will be unable to collect federal extended unemployment benefits starting at the end of this week, which means thousands of people will not receive the full entitlement they had been expecting.

The announcement comes shortly after Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order to increase restrictions on businesses, which some members of the business community worry could yield higher unemployment.

The Extended Benefits Program provided unemployment benefits up to 13 weeks after one's state unemployment benefits normally would expire. The last extended unemployment benefit payments will be provided on the week ending Nov. 21 even if a claimant had been approved for additional weeks. Those who are unemployed and have exhausted their unemployment benefits still can apply for the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which is funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

“Approximately 20,000 will be affected by receiving no more extended benefits,” Joyce Fogg, a spokesperson for the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), told The Center Square. “… Some may have only a week or a few weeks left on [extended benefits].”

The U.S. Department of Labor notified the VEC this week about the program ending. The VEC will send messages to claimants through their Gov2Go account, which will provide advice to those who are losing the benefits.

Virginia’s unemployment numbers skyrocketed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic after the governor imposed restrictions on the state economy. These restrictions have been eased, which has led to lower unemployment numbers in recent months. The downward trend, however, has begun to slow after seasonally adjusted unemployment increased by 0.1% in September.

With colder months approaching, Northam has issued heavier restrictions on businesses again, including a curfew for on-site alcohol sales that will require restaurants and bars to stop selling alcohol after 10 p.m., which could lead to fewer hours for or layoffs of bartenders and waitstaff. The new restrictions also includes a 25-person capacity for public and private events, which is expected to yield fewer events hosted by hotels and convention centers, such as weddings, conferences and other gatherings.

Some states have begun to impose even harsher restrictions. In Michigan, for example, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered bars and restaurants to halt all in-person dining.

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