The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on Friday the first states to receive lost wages grants, intended to provide financial assistance to Americans who have lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Louisiana, along with Arizona, Iowa, and New Mexico are the first states to agree to administer a lost wages program for citizens who are unemployed because of COVID-19.
FEMA's grand funding will allow these states to provide those who are unemployed $300 per week on top of their regular unemployment benefit. FEMA will work with each state's governor as they implement state systems to make this funding available.
The funds come after President Donald Trump signed an executive order on August 8 that made $44 billion available from FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to Americans during the pandemic.
Gov. Edwards announced at a press conference Thursday that the state was pursuing the option, and he believed the funds will aid around 454,000 Louisianans.
FEMA will cover 75 percent of the cost of the measure, while states are responsible for the remaining 25 percent.
States have two options, according to The Department of Labor. To receive the $400 benefit, states must contribute 25 percent ($100) and the federal government will provide 75 percent of the cost ($300). For the $300 per week benefit, FEMA will fund the entire amount and states may choose to simply satisfy the 25 percent state match through funds used to pay regular state unemployment benefits, meaning they would not have to allocate additional state funds.
What this means for Louisiana UI claimants is that once funding is available and the program administration is established, they will receive an additional $300 in weekly UI benefit payments from FEMA. Benefits will be paid retroactive from August 1, 2020.
LWC has paid a total of $5.4 billion in unemployment benefits to the citizens of Louisiana from March 22-August 13, 2020, compared to $153 million in all of 2019. These payments provide necessities to citizens and allow commerce to continue benefiting the entire state.
Learn more about the FEMA program here.
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