Extra $300 Weekly Unemployment Benefit Approved for California

California will be able to pay millions of jobless residents an extra $300 a week, the state’s unemployment agency said Saturday, but there’s no estimate of when people will see that money.

The state’s Employment Development Department said its application for funding the program has been approved by the federal government. When the $300 a week is added to state benefits, it will nearly double the average California claimant’s weekly unemployment check.

Larry Kudlow, a White House senior economic adviser, said this week that overall, the money should be in bank accounts “in the next week or two.”

The agency said in a news release Saturday it “will provide more information on this approved program as it becomes available.” It hopes to have a timeline available next week.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which approved the California application, in a statement Saturday gave no implementation timetable, saying it “will work with California Gov. Gavin Newsom to implement a system to make this funding available to California residents.”

California Lost Wage Assistance

California’s unemployment program will initially get $4.5 billion for the Lost Wages Assistance Program from the federal government, and could receive more. The EDD said the funding for the extra benefit, approved Friday, will be “available for a limited period of time, a minimum of three weeks.”

Those receiving the money will be people now eligible to get at least $100 a week in benefits and who have provided a self-certification that they are unemployed or partially unemployed because of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 2.5 million Californians were out of work in July. The state’s unemployment rate stood at 13.3% five months after the coronavirus outbreak drove the economy to a halt, according to figrues released by the state on Friday.

The average Californian has been receiving $347 a week in state benefits, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Nationally, the aggregate weekly benefit is $364. The $300 supplement is half the $600 supplemental payment beneficiaries were receiving from late March until late July. When Congress and the White House could not agree on a plan to extend that benefit, President Donald Trump took executive action authorizing a $400 a week supplement, with $100 to be paid by states. When states, including California, balked, the federal government made it easier to simply get the $300, which will be entirely federally funded. Newsom said the state could not afford the $100 payment, which he said would cost an estimated $700 million each week, funding that the strapped state budget could not afford. He said earlier this week that while the $300 a week was not enough to meet Californians’ needs, he would seek the funding rather than “look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Labor Secretary Julie Su noted Saturday that, ”As we modernize and strengthen the state’s unemployment insurance delivery system, we will continue to leverage any additional resources the federal government makes available.” The White House and Congress remain stalemated on a longer term benefit plan. No talks have been held since last week and at the moment none are anticipated.