Federal unemployment increase to be paid in Alaska in eight weeks

Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner-designee Tamika Ledbetter presents her credentials to the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee during a confirmation hearing in Juneau on Jan, 24, 2019.
Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Tamika Ledbetter presents her credentials to the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee during a confirmation hearing in Juneau in January 2019. On Monday, she announced that the federal government approved Alaska’s application to pay an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits. A previous federal increase of $600 expired in late July. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

The federal government has approved Alaska’s application to pay workers unemployed due to the pandemic an additional $300 per week. But it will take some time for Alaskans to see the money. 

The payments are expected to start in eight weeks. 

A previous federal program to provide an additional $600 per week expired on July 25. 

State Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Tamika Ledbetter said eligible Alaskans can expect to receive payments dating back to July. She said most of the delay is due to the need to start a new program.

Ledbetter said the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the funding the state asked for. 

President Donald Trump issued an executive order to provide the additional funding after Congress did not agree to extend the previous program. The federal government is funding the full $300 amount. State governments were given the option to provide an additional $100 per week above what the federal government is funding. 

Gov. Mike Dunleavy opted against state funding. Independent business owners like Uber drivers won’t receive the benefits, because states were required to contribute for these workers to receive the additional money. 

Dunleavy said he’s not in a position to provide advice on how Alaskans should handle their expenses while they wait for the money. 

“There’s no doubt it’s going to be difficult for people,” he said. “This whole thing has been difficult. We’re going to do all we can to get the money moving.”

Talks in Congress on providing more COVID-19 relief have stalled. 

 

Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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