Stephanie Ferguson Stephanie Ferguson
Director, Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


March 10, 2021


Today, the House of Representatives passed the Senate version of the American Rescue Plan. The bill is slightly different than what President Biden proposed and the House originally passed. However, the sweeping piece of legislation still comes with the $1.9 trillion price tag. Similar to the relief measures before it, the American Rescue Plan extends, and makes changes to, emergency unemployment insurance (UI) programs just days before the programs expire.

The legislation extends unemployment insurance programs as was expected. Specifically, the bill will do the following:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance:PUA—UI for individuals who normally do not qualify—is extended to September 6, 2021. The number of weeks an individual may receive PUA benefits is increased from 39 weeks (as established by the CARES Act) to 79 weeks.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation:PEUC—additional weeks of UI for individuals who have exhausted regular UI benefits—is extended to September 6, 2021. The number of weeks an individual may receive PEUC benefits is increased from 13 weeks (as established by the CARES Act)to 53 weeks.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance:FPUC is extended to September 6, 2021. The federal top-up of $300 per week will be applied to any UI claimant who receives at least $1 of UI in a benefit week.

Extended Benefits:Full federal funding of EB is extended to September 6, 2021.

Waiting Week:The first week of compensable UI will be fully federally funded in states that do not have a waiting week to September 6, 2021.

Short-Time Compensation:full federal funding of STC programs will be extended to September 6, 2021.

Reimbursing Employers:Nonprofits as well as state, local, and tribal governments will receive 75% relief on their UI bills for benefits paid March 31, 2021, through September 6, 2021.

UI Trust Funds:States that borrow from the federal government in order to replenish their UI trust funds will enjoy interest-free loans to September 6, 2021.

Tax Relief for Individuals:$10,200 of UI benefits received in 2020 will be tax-free for households earning less than $150,000 annually.

The UI benefits are just one piece of the mammoth spending bill. The legislation also provides $1,400 stimulus checks for individuals making less than $75,000 a year, $350 billion for state, local, and tribal governments, $130 billion to k-12 schools, $25 billion towards rental assistance, and billions towards COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and vaccination, and more.

President Biden is anticipated to sign the bill into law on Friday, March 12, just two days before UI benefits expire.

About the authors

Stephanie Ferguson

Stephanie Ferguson

Stephanie Ferguson is the Director of Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives. Her work on the labor shortage has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Associated Press.

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