BOISE – The State of Idaho will begin making payments this week for the Trump Administration’s new conservative plan to offer extended unemployment benefits in order to continue Idaho’s economic rebound.

“Idaho is third among states for lowest unemployment rates, thanks to the investments and creativity of Idaho’s businesses in safely reopening,” Gov. Brad Little said. “We chose to participate in President Trump’s new program as part of a comprehensive approach to our economic rebound, which includes small business grants and return-to-work incentives.”

President Donald Trump issued an executive memorandum earlier this month creating the Lost Wages Assistance program and replacing the recently expired Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which paid an extra $600 per week to those receiving unemployment benefits. The Lost Wages program is funded through the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

“Idaho’s economy is open, and most Idahoans have returned to work safely. However, the number of available jobs reported in Idaho is still lower than the number of unemployed Idahoans. President Trump’s new conservative plan ensures struggling American families can continue to pay their mortgages and avoid debt, which helps stabilize consumer spending and prevent a deeper recession,” Little said.

To qualify for the additional $300 per week, claimants must be unemployed due to COVID-19 and receive a weekly benefit amount of at least $100. Payments will be retroactive for the week ending Aug. 1 for eligible claimants and will run as long as funding is available, up to five weeks, ending Aug. 29, 2020. 

To ensure individuals who need it most are receiving the new benefit, Governor Little directed the Idaho Department of Labor to make sure the $300 per week in additional benefits is also provided to individuals who receive less than $100 per week in unemployment benefits. The Idaho Department of Labor will request up to $15 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to cover this group. The Governor’s Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee will consider the request Thursday.

The state’s participation in President Trump’s new program is part of Idaho’s comprehensive approach to continue strengthening the economy. To date, more than 32,000 Idahoans have received Return to Work incentives, saving taxpayer dollars and benefitting more than 5,100 businesses that needed workers back on the job. More than $75 million was distributed to 9,000 Idaho small businesses in cash payments of up to $10,000. The Idaho Rebound Cash Grants helped the smallest of Idaho businesses impacted by COVID-19, from the self-employed to companies with under 50 employees. The state also made PPE available to small businesses and allowed local governments to use relief dollars to support businesses. In addition, the new public safety initiative reduces property taxes for those in participating cities and counties.

More information on the Lost Wages program can be found at labor.idaho.gov.

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