CHEYENNE - Since the coronavirus pandemic began in Wyoming, workers in the state have received more than $42 million in Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits from a combination of federal emergency aid and the state UI fund.
The majority of this funding has come from the federal government, and specifically from the CARES Act's Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. Payments of those funds began reaching unemployed workers on April 17, and since that time, $22,439,400 has been paid out to Wyoming claimants. Since March 19, another $364,646.09 has been paid to military veterans and federal workers in Wyoming.
The state's Unemployment Insurance fund is also helping an unprecedented number of people during this pandemic. Since March 19, the state UI fund has sent $19,441,776.27 to Wyoming workers who have found themselves out of work due to COVID-19.
Between March 19 and April 21, the total amount of unemployment assistance paid to Wyoming workers from both federal and state sources is $42,245,822.36.
And more is on the way.
"The Department of Workforce Services' Unemployment Insurance division is working around the clock to get benefits to those who have been unable to work due to the coronavirus," said Holly McKamey Simoni, Workforce Programs Administrator for the agency. The CARES Act benefits require additional programming of the agency's UI system, Simoni said, an effort that is ongoing. "Right now our priority is getting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits to self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others not normally eligible for UI benefits," she said. "We understand the urgency for folks, and we are working diligently to get benefits paid as quickly as possible."
In addition to PUA benefits, Simoni says the agency will soon be implementing The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compensation for workers who exhaust their regular unemployment benefits.
DWS fully expects that eligible individuals should be able to start applying for PUA benefits by the first week of May, and an announcement will be made when the PEUC system is in place.
Eligible PUA claimants will receive backdated payments to Feb. 2, 2020, or the first week they were unable to work due to COVID-19, whichever of the two dates is later. The PUA benefit will end December 31, 2020. DWS will announce when the PUA benefit application is available, and applicants will be able to apply for those benefits at that time online at wyui.wyo.gov.
When the PEUC system becomes available, claimants will be able to claim back to the week beginning March 29, 2020, for an additional 13 weeks. DWS is awaiting additional federal guidance about the program and will provide an update when information is available.
Additional Information for workers impacted by COVID-19:
For more information on unemployment insurance benefits, visit here.
Listen to the audio message from DWS Workforce Programs Administrator Holly McKamey Simoni.