The distribution of $300 additional unemployment checks could continue in the upcoming weeks if the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved requests for an extension.
The $300 additional unemployment checks were part of the federal Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program, created by an executive order that President Donald Trump signed on August 8.
It was to hand out a weekly $300 additional unemployment checks to those who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The LWA Program was also one of the stopgap measures after the additional $600 unemployment assistance that was part of the CARES Act ended in July. And, while a second COVID-19 relief aid is still being negotiated.
The FEMA had approved to give the LWA assistance to 49 states for six weeks. And requests for extensions have yet to be approved.
While some states had already distributed their six-week allotment of the $300 additional unemployment checks, others have not begun or finished handing out the checks.
Stimulus in Alaska and New Jersey
Both Alaska and New Jersey have not yet started paying the aid to workers, state officials confirmed. They both appear to be the last states to issue the payments, according to CNET.
Alaska will start disbursing the benefits this week, according to the deputy commissioner of the state's Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Cathy Munoz.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Department of Labor is still processing the $300 payments and expects to issue it this week. Other states like Wisconsin and Nevada started paying the aid last week, according to the state officials.
The wait for the benefits means thousands of workers without jobs have subsisted only on their unemployment benefits given by the state, which is equal to less than the federal minimum wage. And they had to use it for several weeks, according to CNBC.
Delays in the $300 unemployment checks
The delays are largely attributed to the state administration, hampered by old technology and a sudden increase in jobless claims.
According to the U.S. Labor Department, more than 25 million Americans remain unemployed. More than 730,000 workers are collecting benefits in New Jersey and Alaska through different programs.
Almost 1.3 million Americans had filed a claim for benefits last week, between federal unemployment programs and state programs. This is six times more than the filing last year.
The waiting for some workers conflicts with the timeline given by the Trump administration officials, who had publicly stated that the help will take one to two weeks.
In the case of the $300 additional unemployment checks, states essentially had to create a new system from scratch. This means that the new federal program came with requirements and rules that some state officials had to study and translate into their systems.
New Jersey was one of the last to get the FEMA approval, which happened on September 4.
The public had to wait for months to get the $300 additional unemployment checks available to workers who were unemployed between August 1 to September 5.
There were also long delays that were seen earlier in the pandemic when it came to the stimulus checks, according to CNBC.
It took a whole month for all 50 states to start paying the $600 weekly boost, which has expired.