The $300 Unemployment Extension May Be Very Limited


A $300-a-week federal boost to unemployment benefits may end after it starts.

Recipients may only get three weeks’ worth of payments if at all. The enhancement to jobless aid, is available in states approved for funding by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The extra $300 a week, comes after a $600-a-week lapsed at the end of July. It had been in place since April. Without federal assistance, unemployed workers are getting $308 a week in state benefits, for many, this isn’t enough to cover basic living expenses. Some are getting just $5 a week.

"The policy amounts to a guarantee of just three weeks of federal funding for the unemployment subsidy, " said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project.

The Department of Labor estimates states will take an average of three weeks, from Aug. 8, to start paying eligible recipients, but experts expect it to take much longer in certain states.

1 million people collecting jobless benefits won’t be eligible for the $300 supplement, due to a restriction limiting aid to those currently getting more than $100 a week in unemployment benefits.

There was immediate bipartisan blowback about the incremental state contribution to cover unemployment benefits given hemorrhaging state budgets. Responding to the mounting criticism about the state contribution, White House officials appear to be tweaking guidance as to not require new money from the states.

“We modified slightly the mechanics of the deal,” White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said. "States can still, if they put another $100 in to raise the benefit more generally, that's fine. ... Any state who put in $100 before, and every state did, they will then qualify for the extra $300."

While this may appease governors, it also changes Trump’s original promise of a $400 weekly benefit. For Americans who haven’t received a federal unemployment payment since July 25, the promise of even $300 may be welcome news.

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