What’s changed during COVID-19?

From stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment to tax extensions and relaxed rules, the government — state and federal — is pulling strings everywhere to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. 

  • Unemployment Insurance eligibility has been expanded, and may include those who have to miss work to care for children. While benefits are typically capped at 26 weeks in a year, two new extensions allow for 13 and then 20 additional weeks.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a new federal program that provides unemployment benefits ranging from $167-$450 to those ineligible for typical unemployment insurance, like freelancers, independent contractors, gig workers and people with limited work histories. COVID-19-related job impacts qualify workers for this program.
  • The extra $600 a week, also made available under the federal CARES Act, was automatically added to each week of benefits between March 29 and July 25. Now it’s up to politicians in D.C. and Sacramento to decide if it will be extended.

The reason for the drastic measures is clear. Millions of Californians have been hit hard by the pandemic, particularly workers who are young, female or non-white. One survey showed a third of state residents don’t know how they’ll pay next month’s rent. Another researcher estimated that the rate of household food insecurity has doubled.