The American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden on Thursday features $1,400 stimulus checks for many Americans, but it will also extend weekly $300 federal unemployment benefits for many Louisianans.
Louisiana is set to receive about $5 billion of the $1.3 trillion package, a large portion of which likely will be used to replenish the state's unemployment trust fund and pay back around $140 million borrowed from the federal government last year when the fund went bankrupt, The Advocate reports.
Meanwhile, though, thousands of Louisiana residents are still trying to get payments they say they're owed from the Louisiana Workforce Commission. LWC put in place several new security measures in December after receiving suspicious claims.
LWC secretary Ava Dejoie told The Advocate that the agency is working to pay out claims to unemployed workers while not paying fraudulent claims.
Dejoie said in a recent legislative hearing that LWC had cleared a backlog of about 30,000 claims that were held up by the new security measures, but that about 20,000 people are still trying to get access to their benefits.
According to the paper, she also said that the agency has brought in state workers to help out amid the higher demand, but that staffing is a large challenge the agency is facing.
A New Orleans attorney recently filed a lawsuit against the state, alleging that the unemployment benefits remain unpaid due to "sweeping errors," The Advocate reports. Assistant Attorney General Austin Holliday filed a motion this week to dismiss the lawsuit on behalf of Attorney General Jeff Landry. Read more on that here.
Initial unemployment insurance claims for the week ending March 6, 2021, rose to 7,100 from the previous week, during which 6,981 claims were filed. In comparison, during the week ending March 7, 2020, 1,698 claims were filed, according to data from LWC.
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