According to state economist Neal Fried, 6.2% is the highest inflation Alaska has seen since 1990.
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.
The action faces likely legal challenges, and some experts and politicians say it might never be implemented.
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development is now asking self-employed, independent contractors and gig-economy workers to apply for regular unemployment benefits, even though they will likely be denied.
Even after new benefits were added to the federal unemployment insurance program, many Alaskans are still reporting difficulty accessing those benefits due to problems with the state’s application system.
Self-employed workers or those working in the gig economy who lost work due to the coronavirus will have to wait at least four weeks before applying for benefits, Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development said.
State commissioners said the state can provide government services while also protecting workers.
“Decisions were made politically that they had their reasons for. But for us, it was a complete blindside,” said Jack Lewis, who co-owns and runs seven different Anchorage area eating places. “Nobody really was prepared for it, or saw it coming.”
Alaska’s annual population has dropped only six times since the 1940s. Three of those years were 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The company Colaska Inc. sued the Alaska Department of Labor in July over the law. Colaska’s lawyer says the state would pay Colaska interest and other costs related to past citations against the company.