U.S. Department of Labor ends Extended Benefits for unemployment insurance for Vermonters

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (NEWS10) – The Vermont Department of Labor has reportedly been informed by the U.S. Department of Labor that Vermont has officially ‘triggered off’ of the federally-funded unemployment insurance program known as ‘Extended Benefits.’

The Department was notified on Friday from the U.S. Department of Labor that, based on the household survey data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, Vermont’s official unemployed population has reportedly dropped below the threshold for the Extended Benefits program. According to the notification from the U.S. Department of Labor, the final benefit week of the program will be the week ending Saturday, December 19.

This means Vermont becomes one of more than two dozen states that have seen Extended Benefits end in the past few months. Based on the Department’s most recent report, there were 885 people who filed in the Extended Benefits program for the week ending December 5, 2020. As a result of the Extended Benefits ending, the maximum number of benefit weeks available to claimants has reportedly decreased from 52 to 39 weeks, further impacting claimants moving through the system.

“We are extremely disappointed that the federal government has refused to recognize the real and distinct humanitarian crisis that this pandemic has created and instead is choosing to use outdated methodology resulting in benefits being cut for struggling Vermonters,” said Commissioner Michael Harrington. “Thousands of families are relying on these benefits to simply survive and the Scott Administration has been calling for the federal government and Congress to act to prevent this inevitability for weeks. We will continue to push for federal action and flexibility so states can continue providing the necessary support for families.”

In a statement Governor Phil Scott said:

“Last night, at 5:52 p.m., the U.S. Department of Labor notified us via email that it would be cutting unemployment benefits to Vermont families. This decision comes at the height of a global pandemic, the middle of the holiday season and at the start of what will be a long winter. 

“For weeks, my Administration has called on the federal government to accept the bleak reality states are facing in combating this crisis and to act in support of its citizens, who were forced into unemployment through no fault of their own. Instead, it appears it is turning its back on them and we now need Congress to step up to fix this.

“While we’re thankful for the support we’ve received from Vermont’s congressional delegation, we hope they can persuade their colleagues to put people over politics and come to an agreement on relief funding that extends wage replacement programs and overturns the unwillingness of the bureaucracy to do the right thing as we work to defeat COVID-19.”

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