Handful of States Begin Paying Out Extra $300 Weekly Jobless Benefit

By Tom Ozimek

Around a dozen states have begun paying out the extra $300 per week in unemployment benefits that are part of the recently enacted COVID-19 relief bill, with most states poised to join them by mid-January.

Jobless Americans in Arizona, California, Delaware, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia can expect to receive the unemployment boost soon as these states have started making payments as of Tuesday, according to a tracker.

A handful of others are poised to begin $300 disbursements this week, while nearly all states are expected to start by the middle of the month.

“There will probably be a couple outliers that don’t get it up for like three weeks, but I think three weeks is really the outside number,” Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, told Yahoo Money.

The $300 weekly supplement under the new stimulus package is essentially a reauthorization of the CARES Act’s Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, but modified by cutting the original $600 FPUC benefit in half. The payments will last for 11 weeks, from December 26 through March 14, 2021.

The boost was part of the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, which is a component of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, that President Donald Trump signed into law on Dec. 27. Around $120 billion of the $900 billion went to the unemployment system, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

“As we enter a New Year, thanks to the President’s actions, states will be able to offer vital assistance to Americans struggling,” said John Pallasch, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training, in a statement. “The Department, as it swiftly did after passage of the CARES Act in March, will work with states throughout the duration of the pandemic and offer them the resources and dedicated assistance they need to implement the new and extended unemployment provisions of the law.”

The new relief package also extends the CARES Act’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which extends benefits to gig workers and those who are self-employed who would otherwise not be be eligible. It also extends the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, the current temporary unemployment scheme for those that have exhausted regular unemployment benefits. Like FPUC, both programs are extended for 11 weeks through March 14.

To date, Congress has enacted around $2.7 trillion of net COVID-19 relief, the bulk of which has already been spent, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

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