Over the past 10 days, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been steadily approving grants for individual states, to continue to offer additional financial support to unemployed Americans.
The “Lost Wages Assistance” grants were initiated by President Donald Trump through one of his executive orders issued in early August. The presidential memorandum allocated $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to aid those who have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the LWA, the federal government will pay $300 per week on top of an individual’s regular unemployment benefit, with the states agreeing to provide another $100, for a total of $400 per week. The program was slated to apply to unemployment applications for the weeks of Aug. 1 through Dec. 27. However, the Department of Labor warned that the grants could end earlier if FEMA expends its $44 billion budget, or if Congress enacts legislation providing a longer-term solution.
To qualify for LWA benefits, individuals must self-certify they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions from COVID-19, and states must verify they receive at least $100 of underlying unemployment benefits.
Below is a list of which states FEMA has approved for grants, starting with the most recent:
Sept. 9: Nebraska
Sept. 8: Washington, D.C., Guam
Sept. 7: Kansas
Sept. 4: New Jersey
Sept. 2: Delaware
Sept. 1: South Carolina, Wisconsin, Illinois
Aug. 31: North Dakota
Aug. 29: Hawaii, Florida, Minnesota
Aug. 28: Oregon, Wyoming
Aug. 27: West Virginia
Aug. 26: Ohio, Virginia
Aug. 25: Arkansas, Maine
Aug. 24: Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Washington
Aug. 23: Alaska, Georgia, New York
Aug. 22: Mississippi, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont
Aug. 21: Alabama, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas
Aug. 19: Maryland, Ohio
Aug. 18: Montana, Oklahoma
Aug. 16: Colorado, Missouri, Utah
Aug. 15: Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, New Mexico
Previously, unemployed Americans were receiving $600 per week through the CARES Act, which was signed into law in late March. (That $600 a week was on top of state benefits, which averaged $372 a week in February.) However, that program expired at the end of July, and Washington lawmakers have not been able to come to an agreement on whether to modify or continue the weekly benefits.
This comes at a time when unemployment in the U.S. remains historically high. According to the Department of Labor, 1.1 million workers filed jobless claims on a seasonally adjusted basis in the week ended Aug. 15, an increase of 135,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The data also showed that continuing claims, which paints a broader picture of joblessness in the country and lags jobless data by one week, remained high at 14.8 million.