A month after enhanced unemployment benefits expired, only six states are paying the extra $300 provided under President Donald Trump's executive order. The enhanced benefits had been seen as a lifeline for the millions of unemployed Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic and had initially been approved under the CARES Act. However, as negotiations on Capitol Hill regarding an additional stimulus package faltered, the president had signed an executive order ensuring the renewal of those benefits at a reduced rate. Three weeks later, however, only a fraction of the unemployed see that money in their payments.
According to tracking site UnemploymentPUA.com, Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas remain the only states currently paying out the benefits as of Thursday, Aug. 27. The site confirmed such after receiving confirmation from those states' unemployment offices or residents who supplied evidence of payment. A spokesperson for the Texas Workforce Commission confirmed to CBS News that the state began paying the benefit this month and was one of the first to do so, alongside Arizona.
At this time, more than half of the 50 states have applied to and been approved to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance program. Under the program, $44 billion has been allocated from the Disaster Relief Fund, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) handling the approval of grants and the distribution of the funds to individual states. UnemploymentPUA.com notes that a number of states are currently in a stage of "payment pending," meaning that while FEMA has approved their grant, "money has not been paid yet to the unemployment claimants."
In a memo released earlier this month, FEMA explained that it could take some time for unemployment claimants to see the extra money. Although FEMA noted that funding will be available to states "within one business day" after their grant is approved, the unemployment insurance systems of each state would have to be adjusted to handle the distribution of the money. Citing the Department of Labor, FEMA said that this could take "an average of three weeks from Aug. 8," though "at least one state has estimated it will have all payments out retroactive to Aug. 1 in less than one week from the grant award." It is expected that most states will begin, including the enhanced benefit by early to mid-September.
The amount of this benefit will vary state by state. Although the president's executive order called for an extra $400, $100 of that would have to be provided by states. Most states had opted not to give that additional funding, citing the economic toll of the pandemic.