COVID-19 unemployment boost may arrive mid-October

A program to boost unemployment benefits for Alaskans out of work because of the pandemic is still weeks away from implementation. 

In mid-August, the state was approved for a FEMA Lost Wages Assistance program that would give $300 in extra benefits to Alaskans who lost work during the pandemic. 

But that program isn’t expected to start processing payments until mid-October, according to Cathy Munoz, deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor. 

And the $300 payments only go to workers who receive at least $100 in state benefits already. 

Alaska is one of just eight states that have applied for the Lost Wages Assistance program and haven’t yet implemented it according to Unemployment P-U-A.com

While the program is taking more time than many states to stand up, eligible workers will receive benefits retroactively to July, when a separate $600 per month program expired, according to Munoz.

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Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.

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