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$300-a-week added benefits headed to jobless Granite Staters

NH Business Review
Published: 9/10/2020 2:01:58 PM
Modified: 9/10/2020 2:01:46 PM

Unemployment payments, including extra $300-a-week federal enhancements, are on track to go out Wednesday, Employment Security Deputy Commissioner Richard Lavers told NH Business Review. But there is a chance that it might be the last federally enhanced checks unemployed workers will receive for a while.

The benefits are designed to help many people without jobs catch up on such rent, mortgages and utility bills. And, according to statistics released Wednesday morning, many people still need that assistance. Nearly as many Granite Staters were collecting new claims as the previous week, though the number of continuing claims continued to drop at roughly the same rate.

Some 2,398 people in the Granite State filed initial claims – meaning they were laid off or furloughed – in the week ending Sept. 5, just 103 fewer than the previous week. Nationwide, 884,000 Americans lost their jobs, also the same as the previous week. While both were way down compared to the peak of the pandemic-induced recession in May, it was is about four times the number before it started.

As for continuing claims in the week Aug. 29, some 41,982 Granite Staters filed benefits, 2,596 fewer than the week before.

That means slightly more people were going back to work at the end of August than the number of people who were laid off in the beginning of September. And six months into the recession, more than twice as many people are collecting unemployment than before it started.

And the jobless are not sure how long their $300 weekly federal enhancement will continue.

The benefit, which started the week ending Aug. 1, replaced the $600 enhancement under the federal CARES Act that began in early April, but Congress did not approve a replacement.

Instead, President Trump issued an executive order to transfer Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to fund enhanced benefits, but the agency is dealing with the damage wreaked by a major hurricane in the South and unprecedented wildfires out West. The tenuous FEMA aspect is one of the reasons it took so long for New Hampshire Employment Security to get the checks out. Meanwhile, Congress is deadlocked on enhancing future benefits.

Because of the precarious nature of the funding, the federal government can only approve each state’s benefits on a week-by-week basis. Five weeks were approved for New Hampshire, and Lavers said he is hoping to get word about a sixth week on Wednesday.

 

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.


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