New York Congressmembers of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Brian Higgins, Tom Reed and Tom Suozzi led a letter to President Donald Trump calling for immediate authorization of extended unemployment benefits for New York workers.
Workers may be eligible for extended unemployment benefits during periods of high unemployment. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, approved by the House on March 14, authorized extended unemployment benefits.
However, New York has not qualified for these extended benefits. Federal unemployment law requires states to hit certain triggers regarding unemployment rates to qualify for extended benefits. In ordinary circumstances, unemployment data for March would be reported in April, allowing benefits to be issued in May. Immediate approval is necessary to ensure New Yorkers will have uninterrupted access to the benefits they need.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment claims reached 3.283 million nationwide for the week ending March 21, the highest level of seasonally adjusted claims ever recorded. This is almost five times higher than the 665,000 new claims reported during the March 2009 recession.
The bipartisan letter, led by Higgins, Reed and Suozzi, was signed by the entire New York House delegation. They wrote: “Absent federal intervention, the earliest New York State would qualify for Extended Unemployment Benefits is April, allowing benefits to be distributed in May to individuals who qualify. However, the situation in New York State grows increasingly urgent. We urge you allow the New York State extended benefits on-indicator to be in place as of March 20, 2020 without waiting for additional unemployment data which will not be reported until April.”