High extended unemployment benefits to conclude at end of week

MONTPELIER, Vt. – The Vermont Department of Labor has announced that the state is set to trigger off of the High Extended Benefits program, as of Oct. 10, 2020. This determination by the U.S. Department of Labor follows the recent announcement of Vermont’s unemployment rate decreasing from 8.3% in July to 4.8% in August.

A state’s unemployment rate is what drives its extended benefits program, and depending on how extreme the unemployment rate becomes, states can trigger on or off of what is called “State Extended Benefits,” which offers an additional 13 weeks of benefits, or “High Extended Benefits,” where the original 13 weeks are expanded to 20 weeks.

Vermont initially triggered onto “Extended Benefits” May 3, 2020, which provided an additional 13 weeks of benefits to claimants who had already exhausted their 26 weeks of traditional UI benefits and 13 weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. As Vermont’s unemployment rate grew through the months of April, May, and June, the state triggered onto “High Extended Benefits” July 5, 2020, extending the benefit to 20 weeks.

With a steady decline in the state’s unemployment rate since June, Vermont no longer meets the threshold to offer High Extended Benefits of 20 weeks and was informed by the U.S. Department of Labor that it would be downgraded to Extended Benefits of 13 weeks. Eventually, Vermont will trigger off of extended benefits altogether as the published unemployment rate continues to decline.

“This change in benefit eligibility comes at a very difficult time for many Vermonters” said Commissioner Michael Harrington. “The data reported, which is a compilation of a household survey administered by the U.S. Census Bureau, does not take into consideration the flexibility in UI eligibility or actions taken by Vermonters to protect themselves and their loved ones. We know there are more people receiving unemployment benefits than what is reported as part of the household survey, and unfortunately, this continues to highlight the disconnect between the federal government and what is happening on the ground in each state. Because of this calculation method, critical benefits will be cut short for many Vermonters.”

The department has notified those claimants who are impacted by this change and will continue to provide information to claimants regularly as benefits are exhausted.

Claimants who have exhausted their benefits and need assistance with reemployment services are encouraged to contact the Department of Labor’s Workforce Development Division at labor.vtjobs@vermont.gov or by contacting their local career resource center. More information can be found at www.labor.vermont.gov/workforce-development.

Individuals in need of additional support services such as housing or heating assistance, food assistance, or other emergency resources, are encouraged to contact Vermont211 at www.vermont211.org or by dialing 2-1-1.

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