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DOL Says 44 States Paying $600 Weekly Boost in Virus Jobless Aid

April 21, 2020, 9:30 PM

Nearly all states are now paying jobless benefits seekers an additional $600 weekly unemployment insurance supplement created in a recent virus relief package, but only seven states have started paying any benefits to independent contractors affected by Covid-19, a Labor Department spokeswoman told Bloomberg Law.

Forty-four states have started making the $600 payments on top of regular unemployment compensation, the spokeswoman said Tuesday afternoon. That’s up from 29 states on April 15, a sign that states are gradually overcoming some of the challenges in implementing new jobless benefits programs while simultaneously processing more than 22 million overall new claims over the past month.

Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, Washington, and Wisconsin are the only states that have yet to roll out the “plus-ups.”

States continue to struggle with another new jobless aid provision created by the March 27 CARES Act (Public Law 116-136), covering gig workers and other self-employed individuals who are affected by the virus and wouldn’t traditionally be eligible for unemployment benefits. As of Tuesday, the states paying benefits under this program, called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, are Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Texas, and Utah, according to the department spokeswoman.

The rest of the country continues to make technology upgrades to start processing PUA claims, while states still have questions about exactly which workers and scenarios would qualify an independent contractor for aid.

The spokeswoman also said that Kentucky and Minnesota are the only two states to have implemented Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, allowing them to pay an additional 13 weeks of benefits to people who have already exhausted eligibility.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Penn in Washington at bpenn@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Karl Hardy at khardy@bloomberglaw.com