States are quickly receiving approval to provide jobless residents with President Donald Trump’s $300 weekly emergency unemployment benefit, but it may still take some time before people see the boost in their checks.
Some 30 states had been accepted into Trump’s Lost Wages Assistance grant program as of Monday evening, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is administering it. FEMA has already awarded more than $14 billion in grants to states, the agency said.
However, few states have begun distributing that money to jobless residents, since they have to implement new protocols to do so. The program is not part of the traditional unemployment benefits system.
At least one state has started sending out the money. About 400,000 Arizonans had collected a total of $201 million in benefits as of last Thursday, including the beginning of retroactive payments for the weeks ending August 1 and August 8, according to the state’s Department of Economic Security.
Other states, however, need more time. Though Colorado was one of the first states to be approved, its Department of Labor and Employment estimates that residents won’t start receiving the funds until mid- to late September. Mississippi’s Department of Employment Security expects the money to be available within three to four weeks.
Some states have said it could take up to six weeks to launch, John Pallasch, an assistant secretary in the Department of Labor, told reporters in a conference call Thursday. But the average will be three weeks from August 8 since states are already moving to adjust their systems, the agency said.
FEMA said it will initially send states three weeks of funding and then make additional disbursements until the $44 billion allotment runs out. The money is expected to provide only four to five weeks of supplemental payments, depending on how many states apply and how quickly the funds are drawn down, Keith Turi, FEMA’s assistant administrator for recovery, said on the call.
The President signed the executive action to divert disaster relief funds to the unemployed on August 8, after Congress failed to extend the $600 federal boost it had approved in late March to aid those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. That supplement expired July 31.
Trump initially said states would have to put up an additional $100. But after cash-strapped states complained, the Department of Labor said they could count their existing unemployment payments toward the required match and most are doing so.
At least two states, Kentucky and Montana, have said they would add $100 to the federal enhancement, for a total of $400 a week.
Trump’s move, however, is « too little too late, » Goldman Sachs analysts said Monday, warning that consumer spending may take a hit this month. The expiration of Congress’ $600 boost will result in a roughly $70 billion decline in monthly personal income in August, and the data suggest that the jobless have already started paring back their spending, the analysts said.
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