HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut officials estimate tens of thousands of residents will benefit financially from the latest federal pandemic relief legislation, including more than 30,000 who were at risk of losing pandemic assistance for the unemployed if the bill wasn't signed into law.
The state Department of Labor announced Tuesday that approximately 35,000 residents participating in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which helps those who do not receive traditional unemployment benefits, will get 11 more weeks of benefits. Another 29,000 people participating in the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation — typically workers who have used up their regular state unemployment insurance benefits — will also get an 11-week extension of benefits.
Meanwhile, all claimants are expected to receive an extra $300 a week for up to 11 weeks, beginning by mid-January, under the new Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.
“This is much-needed relief for Connecticut’s unemployed residents,” Department of Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said in a written statement. “The PUA and PEUC programs alone cover 64,000 people, more than half of whom would lose benefits entirely without federal action.”
State labor agencies like Connecticut's are now waiting for guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor before they can implement many of the new unemployment-related provisions in the federal legislation. Since existing programs are being extended, the Connecticut Department of Labor doesn't expect significant delays. However, the agency cannot begin implementing the changes without the federal guidance.
Updates on the timing of these programs will be posted on the agency's website.
Connecticut officials also learned that the state’s “shared work program” will continue to be fully funded by the federal government, under the new legislation. The initiative helps businesses prevent layoffs by allowing them to temporarily reduce employee hours and use partial unemployment benefits to offset a worker’s lost wages.
As of Tuesday, there were 767 confirmed or probable new COVID-19 cases in Connecticut and 20 more COVID-associated deaths since Monday, for a total of 5,924. The number of hospitalizations increased by seven to 1,226. New Haven, Hartford and Fairfield counties have the largest numbers of hospitalizations in the state.