Some States Start Paying $300 Unemployment Boost While Others Lag

Brian van der Brug | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
  • Arizona, California, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee are among the first states to begin paying a $300 weekly boost to unemployment benefits.
  • The $300 enhancement was offered by the $900 billion Covid relief law signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 27.
  • Connecticut and Washington state expect to start disbursing the benefit in mid-January. Other states don't appear to have concrete timelines.

A handful of states have begun issuing a $300 weekly boost to unemployment benefits or signaled workers will get the payments starting this week. Others expect the aid to kick in later this month.

Workers in Arizona, California, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee will receive the first batch of enhanced payments this week, according to state labor agencies. California and New York are the No. 1 and 2 states, respectively, relative to the number of workers receiving jobless benefits.

Connecticut and Washington state aim to disburse the supplement beginning in mid-January, officials said.

The $300-a-week increase in jobless benefits comes as part of a $900 billion Covid relief package signed Dec. 27 by President Donald Trump.

The stipend is available for up to 11 weeks, to workers unemployed at any time between Dec. 26 and March 14.

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Most other states haven't yet offered concrete payment timelines as they work to implement new unemployment rules included in the relief law. Workers will be reimbursed for any gap resulting from delayed aid.

Those provisions include 11 extra weeks of federally funded benefits for workers who exhausted their standard allotment of state aid, and to self-employed and other workers who don't qualify for state benefits.

First payments

Workers in California were paid the $300 weekly supplement as early as Sunday, according to the state Employment Development Department.

However, the first tranche is only available to the 1.3 million Californians who are receiving regular state benefits or aid through the Federal-State Extended Duration program, which kicks in during periods of high unemployment, the agency said.

Benefits will be delayed for others — almost 3 million people — until "revised programming is in place" for the extended federal programs, the agency said.

Those federal programs include Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

All workers in New York and Rhode Island, including those collecting PUA and PEUC benefits, will begin receiving the $300 boost along with this week's payments, according to state labor officials.

Rhode Island recipients will get the funds as early as Monday, according to Margaux Fontaine, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Labor and Training.

Arizona residents were able to file a weekly claim for the additional $300 beginning Sunday, according to Tasya Peterson, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Economic Security. The payments started flowing this week along with workers' regular benefits, she said.

Tennessee began disbursing the funds on Monday, according to Chris Cannon, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Connecticut, Washington

Connecticut labor officials expect to start paying the $300 enhancement by mid-January, according to a statement issued Tuesday by Gov. Ned Lamont and Kurt Westby, the state's labor commissioner.

Washington state expects to issue two weeks' worth of payments on Jan. 15, according to information on the state's unemployment website. It typically takes a few days for banks to process the payments after being issued, according to information on the Employment Security Department's website.

The New Jersey Department of Labor has reprogrammed its systems to administer the $300 benefit and will soon begin distribution, once user testing is successfully completed, according to spokeswoman Angela Delli-Santi.

The $300 weekly supplement follows two others enacted during the coronavirus pandemic: a $600-a-week stipend provided by the CARES Act through July, and a subsequent $300 weekly Lost Wages Assistance payment offered for up to six weeks through early September.

While some states were able to disburse that aid quickly, many took several weeks — even a few months — to do so.

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