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NJ approved for extra $300 a week in unemployment by FEMA – NorthJersey.com

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Published 5:50 p.m. ET Sept. 5, 2020 | Updated 2:38 p.m. ET Sept. 6, 2020

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Reporters from the USA TODAY NETWORK Northeast discuss what the region got right and wrong during the first coronavirus spike and where we go from here.

NorthJersey.com

An unemployment benefit that will provide an additional $300 a week to those out of work due to COVID-19 has gained approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor approved New Jersey for a FEMA grant under the Lost Wages Assistance program, according to a press release from the agency on Friday.

The agency plans to work with Gov. Phil Murphy to implement a system to make the funding, which will be on top of regular unemployment benefits for those who are unemployed due to the virus.

Unlike the $600 a week supplemental payment that expired in July, those who were unemployed before COVID-19 are not eligible for the $300 a week benefit. Those who receive less than $100 a week in unemployment are also not eligible. 

More: NJ applying for extra $300 a week in federal COVID unemployment benefits. What to know

More: Extra $300 a week in unemployment in NJ: What you need to know, including who would get it

New Jersey’s application will cover three weeks: Aug. 1, 8 and 15. Those who are eligible for the program would most likely see one check of $900 for those weeks in their bank accounts. 

Beyond those three weeks of retroactive pay, it’s unclear how long the program will actually last. The FEMA grant is capped at $44 billion. State Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo said while he does not know how long it will last, the “general consensus is between seven and nine” weeks. But the program would also end if FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund balance drops below $25 billion

Approximately 800,000 unemployed workers may not see the first check until October, said Asaro-Angelo last month.   

“Because this is an entirely new program … for which we cannot use any of our current unemployment trust fund money, accounts, staff or infrastructure, it will not be easy or quick to get this additional money into the pockets of those who need it the most,” Asaro-Angelo said. 

Stephanie Noda is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: noda@northjersey.com Twitter: @snoda11 

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Trump’s $300 in extra unemployment aid: More than half of states approved – CBS News

More Americans are going hungry


More Americans are going hungry

07:21

More than half of U.S. states have been approved for President Donald Trump’s extra $300 in weekly jobless benefits. The aid is geared toward helping the 28.2 million workers who are currently collecting their states’ regular unemployment benefits, which typically replaces only a fraction of a worker’s regular income. 

The latest state to receive approval was Connecticut, which received the green light from FEMA on Monday. Another 29 states have also been given the nod from the federal agency. The aid is funded by $44 billion in funds allocated for natural disaster relief.

Even so, it’s unclear how many states are currently disbursing the extra benefits, with FEMA officials last week saying that only one state so far — Arizona — had actually begun payment of the extra $300 per week. Federal officials have said the time required to get the money into the hands of jobless workers would “vary wildly,” with some states needing as many as six weeks to disburse the funds after receiving approval from FEMA. 

About one-fifth of the U.S. workforce is currently receiving unemployment aid, according to Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation. But many of them are struggling after the loss of $600 in extra weekly unemployment aid at the end of July, which has pushed millions of jobless workers off an income cliff. 

With Congress deadlocked on another stimulus bill, Mr. Trump signed an order on August 8 to provide the extra $300 in benefits to jobless workers. But Mr. Trump’s Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) executive action doesn’t go far enough, Stettner said. 

“Our analysis shows that LWA would cut the average value of per-person regular unemployment benefits from $908 to $608, a 33% loss,” he said in a statement. 

That states that have been approved for the extra aid are: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

South Dakota is the only state that so far has declined the extra aid.

Expiration date

Mr. Trump’s extra aid also has an expiration date, with FEMA noting that it’s authorized an initial three weeks of payments. An additional week or two of funding could be available beyond that, but that depends on how much money states use and whether there are other demands on the $44 billion in disaster relief funds. For instance, some of those funds may be needed to provide aid to regions suffering from storm or hurricane damage. 

There are already signs that the loss of extra jobless aid is affecting consumers’ spending and attitudes. Consumer confidence fell to 84.8 in August, below the consensus estimate of 93, according to the Conference Board on Tuesday.

“We suspect that the still-widespread incidence of COVID-19 infections is undermining confidence, and the expiration of federal unemployment benefits is also dampening spirits,” noted Oxford Economics chief U.S. financial economist Kathy Bostjancic in a Tuesday report. “Households are becoming more cautious in their outlook for continued healing of the economy.”

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That extra $600 unemployment benefit may end sooner than many think – CNBC

President Donald Trump discussed a proposed round of federal stimulus aid with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., (left) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., (center) in the Oval Office on Monday.

Photo by Doug Mills/Getty Images

Enhanced unemployment benefits are likely ending sooner than many may realize. That could impose financial hardship on millions of families come month’s end. 

The CARES Act, the federal coronavirus relief law enacted in March, gave an extra $600 a week in aid through July 31 to Americans receiving jobless benefits.

But, in all states, that subsidy will end this weekend — on July 25 or 26 — unless Congress passes legislation before then to extend the timeline, which looks increasingly unlikely.

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“I think people don’t recognize they won’t get the benefit the last week in July,” according to Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, who said many are likely relying on those payments for rent, mortgages and other end-of-month bills.

“I think it’ll come as an unwelcome shock,” she said.

Payments are ending about a week earlier than the CARES Act allows due to the administrative calendar that states use to pay benefits.

States pay aid according to the timeline of a “benefit week.”

All states have benefit weeks ending on a Saturday or Sunday. But July 31 falls on a Friday.

That means states must stop paying the $600 after this weekend in order to comply with the CARES Act, which requires the subsidy to end on or before July 31.  

Around 32 million Americans were collecting unemployment benefits as of June 27, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Labor Department.

They would continue to get standard state benefits, which averaged $383 a week in the first quarter of this year, according to the department. That amount would be a roughly 61% decrease in aid. 

‘Tough choices’

Meanwhile, federal lawmakers are debating the contours of another coronavirus relief package.

Democrats have called for an extension of the weekly $600 supplement for jobless workers. Republicans have signaled they want those payments to end.

It’s unclear what, if anything, would take their place if they disappear, but some Republicans have proposed a cash bonus for people who find new jobs or a reduced amount of aid.

Failure to pass legislation by this weekend would effectively mean the $600-a-week unemployment enhancement would lapse.

Every week they don’t get that payments after July 25 or 26 is a week where workers and their families will have to make tough choices.

Ernie Tedeschi

labor economist at Evercore ISI

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., doesn’t expect legislation to pass until the first week of August, he told CNBC on Tuesday.

“Every week they don’t get that payments after July 25 or 26 is a week where workers and their families will have to make tough choices about what spending they’re going to cut, and that will have an effect on the economy and the recovery,” said Ernie Tedeschi, a labor economist at Evercore ISI.

Congress may make any federal unemployment aid included in the next bill retroactive, meaning recipients could receive back pay for weeks going back to the end of July or early August.

However, that could mean Americans must endure a few weeks of financial hardship before being made whole, Tedeschi said.







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