More than 250,000 unemployed people in Arizona became the first Americans to receive an extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits on Monday following executive actions taken by President Donald Trump.
The Trump memorandum signed Aug. 8 at his New Jersey golf club calls for the distribution of an additional $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit on top of the state benefits that unemployed people typically receive. The source of that extra $300 is a $44 billion fund set aside for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“ Nearly 1 million Americans who receive less than $100 a week would be ineligible for the add on benefit ”
There is a not insignificant caveat, though — that jobless Americans are only eligible for the $300 add-on if they already receive at least $100 a week in benefits from their state. Therefore, nearly 1 million Americans who receive less than $100 a week would be ineligible for the add-on benefit, Eliza Forsythe, a labor economist and assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, calculated.
The payments aren’t automatic. States must apply through FEMA for a grant “to administer the supplemental payments for lost wages.”
States will have to pay 25% of the cost of delivering the extra $300, and, as of Monday, only 18 states had said they would accept the FEMA grants, according to a survey by the Associated Press. Another 30 said they were still considering the offer or hadn’t decided, the AP reported. (The FEMA grants do not cover the 25% of the cost that states must pay.)
Eleven states, including Arizona, had been approved to access funds from FEMA to distribute the additional $300-a-week federal benefit as of Thursday. Eight more states are awaiting FEMA’s approval, Keith Turi, Assistant Administrator of Recovery at FEMA told reporters on Thursday.
So far no states who have applied have been rejected, he added.
At least one governor has said her state won’t apply for the FEMA grant because residents don’t need the extra $300. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican and Trump ally, said she won’t be submitting an application. “My administration is very grateful for the additional flexibility that this effort would have provided, but South Dakota is in the fortunate position of not needing to accept it,” she said in a statement. “South Dakota’s economy, having never been shut down, has recovered nearly 80% of our job losses.”
Here’s where things stand in states that have been approved by FEMA
As of Monday, nearly $75 million was distributed to unemployed Arizonans to make the extra $300 payments, Brett Bezio, a spokesman for Arizona’s Department of Economic Security, told MarketWatch.
Approximately 150,000 of the 400,000 unemployed Arizonans have not yet received the $300 supplemental unemployment benefit.
Colorado received FEMA’s approval on Aug. 16, but the state’s Department of Labor and Employment has “not yet determined what the benefit amount will be nor do we have any estimate on development timelines to reprogram our systems to pay these benefits,” Cher Haavind, a spokeswoman for the department, told MarketWatch.
Idaho received FEMA’s approval on Aug. 19.
“To ensure individuals who need it most are receiving the new benefit, [Gov. Brad] Little directed the Idaho Department of Labor to identify ways to ensure the $300 per week in additional benefits is also provided to individuals who receive less than $100 per week in unemployment benefits,” an Aug. 19 statement reads. It’s not clear if the state will have to pay out an additional $100 to every jobless resident or make up the difference so that each claimant receives at least $100 a week in benefits.
The department did not immediately respond to MarketWatch’s request for a comment.
Iowa received FEMA’s approval on Aug. 14, one day after submitting an application. The state’s labor department, known as Iowa Workforce Development, declined to provide details on when jobless Iowans could expect to receive the add-on benefit.
Louisiana received FEMA’s approval on Aug. 14.
“As of now, details are pending and we do not have a date as to when claimants can expect payment. We are expecting more clarity and information to become available in the coming days,” Louisiana Workforce Commission Secretary Ava Dejoie said in a statement to MarketWatch.
Maryland received FEMA’s approval on Aug. 20.
“While it will take some time to work with the federal administration to implement this new program, all claimants will receive benefit payments retroactive to their earliest date of eligibility within the new program,” Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson said in an Aug. 19 statement.
Unemployment beneficiaries will start receiving the add-on benefit in late September, the agency said.
Missouri received FEMA’s approval on Aug. 16.
“We are awaiting additional guidance from FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor while continuing to work as expeditiously as possible” to implement the $300 add-on benefit, Rose Delores, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, told MarketWatch. “We will update our website as more information becomes available, including any additional eligibility requirements and timelines for payment.”
Montana received FEMA’s approval on Aug. 18.
Unlike other states, Montana will be contributing an additional $100 a week on top of the $300 federal benefit. That will boost unemployment benefits for every Montanan by $400 a week.
In terms of timing, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry has not indicated when unemployed Montanans will receive the increased benefits. “The federal government is requiring states to program a new system, and DLI is already implementing the necessary changes to get this money out the door,” Acting DLI Commissioner Brenda Nordlund said in an Aug 17. statement.
New Mexico received FEMA’s approval on Aug. 15.
“It is unclear at this time when funding will become available, or how much funding is available,” Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley said in an Aug. 13 statement. The state agency did not directly respond to MarketWatch’s request for a comment.
Oklahoma received FEMA’s approval on Aug. 18, one day after submitting an application.
The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission told MarketWatch that Oklahomans could expect to receive the add-on benefit within four to five weeks and that the benefit will be “retroactive to Aug. 1, and all eligible claimants will receive back pay to that date once changes to the system have been put into production.”
“Working with legacy technology to implement this benefit will hinder the agency’s ability to make quick changes to the system, but our team will work as fast as possible given the constraints that exist dealing with 40-year-old technology,”OESC Interim Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt said in an Aug 17. statement.
Utah received FEMA’s approval on Aug 16.
“We anticipate Utah will be ready to distribute within three to four weeks,” Nate McDonald, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, told MarketWatch. “Reprogramming the system will be the biggest piece.”