Several states have already begun administering the latest $300 weekly enhancement to unemployment benefits, a week after President Donald Trump signed the Covid relief package to extend federal jobless aid during the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest stimulus bill signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, extends federal programs by 11 weeks to help freelancers, self-employed, gig workers and the long-term unemployed, and it reinstates the weekly federal enhancement that expired in July 2020, this time at a reduced rate of $300 per week.
The president's delay in signing the bill led lawmakers and policy experts to worry the timing would cause a lapse in benefits for some 12 million Americans and their families in the new year. But some state agencies were able to avoid a delay in payments for expiring programs and have begun issuing the $300 weekly enhancement to claimants starting this week, reflecting the benefit period that ended on Jan. 2 or 3, depending on the state.
Volunteers behind the site UnemploymentPUA.com created a tracker of where the extra $300 payments are already going out, based on information from state agencies as well as crowdsourced updates from workers across the country.
Here are the states that have already begun issuing or processing the $300 weekly unemployment boost this week as of Tuesday morning:
- California (available only to those on regular state benefits or the Federal-State Extended Duration program)
- Washington, D.C.
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Workers in several states, including New York, California and Arizona, began receiving the federal enhancement Monday, while other states plan to issue the boost throughout the week.
The state-by-state tracker is updated every few hours, a representative from UnemploymentPUA.com tells CNBC Make It. According to the site, some states have also posted announcements that they will begin issuing the latest $300 weekly payments next week, including:
- California (for those on PUA or PEUC)
- South Carolina
Each state administers its own unemployment program, so it will vary when each one is able to reprogram its system and pay out the latest jobless benefits from the Covid stimulus package. Experts predict the $300 boosted payments will be out in the majority of states by mid-January. Some states may take longer to reinstate the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which supports gig workers and those not traditionally eligible for aid, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, for the long-term unemployed.
However, all workers will be entitled to the full 11 weeks of extended benefits laid out in the act, even if the funds don't hit their accounts this week, and any delayed payments will be paid retroactively to Dec. 27, 2020.
After the CARES Act was passed in March 2020, it took roughly a month for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to administer the weekly federal enhancement, which at the time was set to $600 per week in an effort to help the average worker recover 100% of wages lost to the pandemic.
With the latest rescue package, some workers with mixed earnings from wage and independent contractor work could get another $100 on top of their benefits in the coming weeks through what's being called Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation, or MEUC, though states will need to work out how to send out these funds to people who qualify.
Federal unemployment extensions are in effect until March 14. Benefits for PUA and PEUC phase out through April 11.
This article has been updated with new information.