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Burgum separating ND from federal COVID unemployment assistance

(Elise Amendola | Associated Press)
Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 5:47 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., is ending North Dakota’s participation in federally-backed COVID unemployment assistance programs.

On June 19th, the state will return to its traditional model for handling unemployment assistance.

State leaders say North Dakota needs to improve the size of its work force, and hopes removing the state from the expanded assistance will help do that.

According to the governor’s office, there were more than 16,000 job openings in April. Meanwhile, more than 8,300 individuals were claiming unemployment.

“These federal unemployment programs were meant to supplement state benefits and provide short-term relief for displaced and vulnerable workers, and these programs have accomplished their goals but are now counterproductive. Safe, effective vaccines have been available to every adult in North Dakota for months now, and we have an abundance of job openings with employers who are eager to hire,” Burgum said in a statement.

The programs North Dakota is removing itself from are responsible for more than $700 million in unemployment assistance, but Burgum’s office claims nearly 30% of that goes to people not living in North Dakota.

To learn more about local job openings, contact the nine workforce centers through the state at www.jobsnd.com.

The following describes the changes that will take place when North Dakota’s participation in the four programs is terminated effective June 19:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

  • What It Is: benefits to the self-employed, the underemployed, independent contractors, and individuals who have been unable to work as a direct result of COVID-19. This includes individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or instructed to quarantine.
  • How It Will Change: Beginning no sooner than 30 days from the date North Dakota provides written notice to USDOL, North Dakota will stop paying PUA benefits to existing claimants and not process any new PUA claims filed after the expiration of the notice period.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

  • What It Is: Extension of unemployment benefits for claimants beyond the traditional 20 weeks by an additional 51 weeks. PEUC allowed claimants to extend their time on unemployment where they normally would have expired.
  • How It Will Change: Beginning no sooner than 30 days from the date North Dakota provides written notice to USDOL, North Dakota claimants who have exhausted their regular UI benefits will no longer be eligible for payments.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)

  • What It Is: $300 weekly add-on benefit for all types of unemployment assistance.
  • How It Will Change: Beginning no sooner than 30 days from the date North Dakota provides written notice to USDOL, North Dakota will stop issuing the $300 weekly FPUC benefit payments for weeks after the expiration of the notice period.

Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)

  • What It Is: $100 weekly add-on benefit for those who are eligible for regular UI benefits, but also earned self-employment income.
  • How It Will Change: Beginning no sooner than 30 days from the date North Dakota provides written notice to USDOL, North Dakota will stop paying MEUC benefits to existing claimants and stop processing any MEUC claims received after the notice period.

Job Service North Dakota is currently drafting a publicity campaign called “JobUP ND” to focus on the wide variety of industries in need of workers. The campaign, slated to launch June 15, will also highlight the qualifications and training needed to get into those available jobs. An increased spotlight on the workforce’s current needs plus the ability for workers to easily transfer skills will benefit employers and job seekers alike.

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