Unemployed US workers will see additional payments this week

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus epidemic will start receiving improved unemployment benefits this week as states deploy hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid, said Tuesday state officials.

People who have lost their jobs line up to file unemployment claims following a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak at an Arkansas Workforce Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States, April 6, 2020. REUTERS / Nick Oxford

Congress approved an additional $ 600 weekly payment for unemployed workers as part of an unprecedented $ 2.3 trillion bailout signed by President Donald Trump on March 27.

It could take several weeks before this money enters federal and state bureaucracies in the bank accounts of the millions of Americans who have been kicked out of work.

However, eligible New York residents will see additional benefits this week, according to the State Department of Labor. New Jersey is also aiming to withdraw payments this week, although it may take longer, spokeswoman Angela Delli-Santi said.

Missouri and Georgia plan to start sending payments the week of April 12, officials said, and Indiana will start the following week.

Officials from Maine, Ohio, Minnesota and California said they had not yet determined when they could distribute the money. Other states did not respond or declined to comment immediately.

Experts say some states may have trouble withdrawing money by May 1, when rent and many other bills are due. “This can be a challenge,” said Michele Evermore, policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project.

Reinforced unemployment assistance, totaling $ 260 billion, aims to ensure that those who are unemployed do not see their incomes fall sharply. The weekly payment of $ 600 reinforces regular unemployment benefits, which generally represent only a fraction of a worker’s previous net wages.

The money could be a lifeline for laid-off workers struggling to get benefits from demand-stricken states.

“I am cautiously optimistic that this will be the case and that I will not have to play with it until I return to work,” said Desire Nesmith, 24, who was laid off as a replacement teacher and educator. in Fort Worth, Texas.

Federal assistance also extends benefits to part-time workers and the self-employed who previously did not qualify. State officials have said it may take longer for these people to see the benefits.

State unemployment systems face flood of candidates as businesses close to minimize spread of pandemic, which has killed more than 12,000 people and infected more than 380,000 across the United States .[nL1N2BV0Q6]

The first weekly jobless claims reached more than 6 million last week, a record.

States will have to reprogram their IT systems to provide the new benefit, which could be a daunting task. More than half still rely on decades-old mainframe systems that run on outdated software.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has asked for volunteers capable of working with the COBOL language, first introduced in 1959, to reprogram state computers.

Other states with newer systems have also suffered from problems.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hastened to consolidate a system put in place in 2013 that was unable to keep up with unemployed applicants, causing widespread outrage. State officials have known about the problems that changed the recipients for years, but have failed to fix them, according to a review found last year.

The extra money will be a lifeline for those who have their application approved, said Florida labor lawyer Cathleen Scott.

“For my clients, it’s the difference between paying off their mortgage and eating,” she said.

Report by Andy Sullivan; Additional reporting by Jonnelle Marte in New York; Editing by Scott Malone, Leslie Adler and Tom Brown

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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