Unemployment Benefits

FILE - In this Friday, March 10, 2017, file photo, a lone job seeker checks in at the front desk of the Texas Workforce Solutions office in Dallas. On Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits a week earlier. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

AUSTIN — Texans receiving unemployment could be eligible for a total of 52 weeks of benefits — double the typical amount of time aid is available — as the state triggered an extended benefits period, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

Unemployed Texans have historically received up to 26 weeks of benefits. The U.S. Department of Labor notified the Texas Workforce Commission on Monday that the state triggered what's called State Extended Benefits, which provides 13 additional weeks of unemployment aid. That comes after a federal coronavirus relief bill previously extended some unemployment benefits for 13 weeks under what's called Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

The first week Texans could start receiving these newest extended benefits is the week ending July 4, which is 13 weeks after the PEUC extension took effect in the state. People must first exhaust the standard 26 weeks, plus the additional 13 weeks under PEUC, before receiving the additional 13 weeks of extended benefits, said Cisco Gamez, spokesperson for the commission. Self-employed workers and gig employees — who newly became eligible for unemployment because of the federal coronavirus relief bill — can also receive extended benefits, Gamez said.

PEUC provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits and is available through the week ending Dec. 26. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation offers an additional $600 in benefits per week and is available until the week ending July 25.

Extended benefits date back to 1971 and kick in during times of high unemployment. In April, the state's unemployment rate was 12.8%, topping the previous high of 9.2% in 1986. The state's unemployment rate exceeded the 5% threshold to trigger the latest extended benefits period, which the federal government reimburses to the state.

According to the Department of Labor, 2.2 million Texans have filed for unemployment since mid-March. The Texas Workforce Commission has paid out $9.7 billion in benefits using state and federal funds.

"Texans could receive up to a year of unemployment benefits under second extension of aid" was first published by The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune is proud to celebrate 10 years of exceptional journalism for an exceptional state.

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