The extra $300 federal boost to unemployment benefits created under an executive action signed by President Donald Trump is already running out for some states, less than a month after the program launched.
Both Texas and Tennessee, some of the first states to start paying the extra benefit, were notified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency this week that they will no longer receive funding to provide the $300 under Trump’s new Lost Wages Assistance Program.
The states were told that funding for the program was to be cut off after the week ended Sept. 5.
Arizona’s Department of Economic Security also recently warned that the extra $300 payment could end in the state as soon as this week.
Why is the money running out? Under Trump’s Aug. 8 executive memo, FEMA set aside $44 billion from the disaster relief fund to help pay for the extra benefit. So far, the agency has paid out $30 billion of that limited pot, to the 48 states, plus Guam and the District of Columbia, that were approved for the program.
What about other states applying for the program? Regardless of where the states and territories are in the process of obtaining the funding from FEMA, an agency spokesperson told POLITICO it will provide money for six weeks of the $300 benefit to every state and territory that has applied for the program by Sept. 10.
How did we get here? The money is supposed to be a stopgap as Congress remains stalled over whether to restart payments of $600 in extra federal benefits that expired July 31. Democrats want to extend the $600 through January, but Republicans say that payment is too much and instead want to provide $300 until Dec. 27.
How many people are relying on the benefit? The announcement that extra unemployment funding is already running out for some states comes as new applications for jobless benefits in state programs have started to flatline, suggesting the economic recovery could be slowing.
Some 884,000 new unemployment claims were filed in state programs last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. An additional 838,916 applied for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, created for those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits like the self-employed and gig workers.
In total, nearly 30 million unemployed Americans are receiving jobless benefits.