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Here’s what the new stimulus bill means for unemployed Pennsylvanians

Philadelphia Legal Assistance's Julia Simon-Mishel says the $300 supplement is essential to providing workers with stability as they wait for the economy to rebound and for jobs to return.

Lol. (Courtesy image)

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Displaced Pennsylvania workers receiving unemployment compensation will continue to receive additional funds, thanks to the passing of a massive stimulus bill at the federal level.

President Joe Biden signed off on a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill Thursday afternoon that will extend the additional $300-per-week benefit for people receiving unemployment insurance.

Julia Simon-Mishel, supervising attorney of Philadelphia Legal Assistance’s Unemployment Compensation Unit, said that $300 supplement is essential to providing workers with stability as they wait for the economy to rebound and for jobs to return. It is not a change, but rather a continuation of the benefit that was already in place.

“The stimulus package shows that Congress continues to recognize that current state unemployment benefit levels do not provide adequate income replacement and extends the $300 supplement for as long as other program extensions, such as pandemic emergency unemployment compensation (PEUC) and pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA), are in place,” she told Technical.ly. “Without the supplement, tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians would be receiving less than $100 a week in benefits. The supplement is what keeps many families in their homes with food on the table.”

In addition, Simon-Mishel said that the PEUC and PUA extensions will continue benefits for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania workers who would exhaust their benefits at the end of this week without them.

Pandemic-time unemployment assistance in Pennsylvania has not been without its blemishes. Gov. Tom Wolf faulted software provider Geographic Solutions, Inc. for glitches that saw tens of thousands of people across the sate being overpaid before their monthly payments were deducted to cover losses.

In 2020, displaced workers were highly reliant upon an additional $600 that they received in unemployment compensation before that funding ended. Less resilient jobs in industries such as hospitality have taken significant damage from COVID-19, with 498,000 jobs being lost in that industry in December 2020.

Check out Billy Penn’s explainer of the economic implications of the new stimulus bill on Philadelphia at large.

Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Series: Philadelphia Journalism Collaborative

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