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Updated on Jun 12, 2021 1:24 am
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A Fear of COVID-19 Won’t Be Enough to Get Unemployment Benefits

00:03:26

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The Texas Tribune

Jobless Texans who refuse work offers because they feel a job isn’t safe during the pandemic will no longer be able to receive unemployment benefits as of June 26, the Texas Workforce Commission announced this week. Since last year, special pandemic guidelines have allowed some out-of-work people to decline a job if it doesn’t have proper COVID-19 health and safety protocols — and still qualify for unemployment benefits. 

James Bernsen, a spokesperson for the TWC, said that the reversal of the guidelines is associated with the removal of COVID-19 federal unemployment aid that Gov. Greg Abbott announced last month. TWC did not immediately release the number of people who have been turning down jobs for COVID-19 safety reasons and would be impacted by this change.

Starting June 26, jobless Texans will lose access to a $300-per-week supplemental benefit through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. Abbott also cut off a lifeline called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which extended unemployment aid to gig workers, self-employed people and others who don’t traditionally receive unemployment benefits. 

As of April 30, approximately 344,000 Texans were receiving these PUA benefits, according to data compiled by economist Julia Coronado, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Read the full story by the Tribune’s Isabella Zou.

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