WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans who have lost their jobs because of the new corona virus will begin to receive improved unemployment benefits as soon as this week as states spend hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid, state officials said Tuesday.
FILE PHOTO: People gather at the entrance to the New York State Department of Labor office, which was closed to the public because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brooklyn, New York City, USA, March 20, 2020. REUTERS / Andrew Kelly
Congress approved an extra payment of $ 600 per week for unemployed workers as part of a never-before-seen $ 2.3 trillion bailout signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27.
It can take several weeks for that money to filter through federal and state bureaucrats in bank accounts for many of the millions of Americans who have been kicked out of work.
Qualified New York residents will see the extra benefit payments this week, says Deanna Cohen, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Labor. In Missouri, payments will begin to begin as early as April 12, according to the state Department of Labor.
Officials in Maine and California said they have not yet arrived at when they will be able to distribute the money. Other states did not immediately respond to the request for comment.
The improved unemployment allowance, which amounts to $ 260 billion, is aimed at ensuring that those who are thrown out of work do not see a large decline in income. It adds $ 600 a week to the payments that unemployed workers usually receive, which is a fraction of their previous salary.
State unemployment systems are struggling to keep up with the applicant’s flow as companies across the country close their doors to minimize the spread of the pandemic, which has killed more than 11,000 people and infected more than 375,000 across the United States.
Initial unemployment claims this week rose to more than 6 million last week, nearly ten times the previous record set in 1982. Applicants say they’ve come across sunk sites and long waited.
States need to reprogram their computer systems to provide the new benefit, which can be a daunting task. More than half still rely on decades-old mainframe systems based on the COBOL language first introduced in 1959.
Others, like Florida, have implemented new systems that have been plagued by errors.
Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone and Leslie Adler