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Unemployed Californians Could Soon Get An Extra $300 Per Week

A staffer works to process claims at California's unemployment office, March 30, 2020. (California Employment Development Department)
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It’s been about a month since millions of Californians lost their federal unemployment benefits, throwing many into a financial downward spiral. Now, they may get some short-term relief through a new federal program.

Over the weekend, California’s unemployment office announced that the state was approved to participate in the federal Lost Wages Assistance program, which was created by an executive order earlier this month from President Trump. The state will receive $4.5 billion to start, with the possibility of more funding down the line.

The program will provide an extra $300 per week to Californians who are out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic. That money will be added to their existing state unemployment benefits.

Payments will be retroactive to Aug. 1, and are guaranteed to last at least three weeks for qualified recipients. But this will only be a short-term replacement for the $600-per-week supplement that expired in July (Congress has so far failed to renew that program).

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There’s still no word on when Californians can expect to receive the new federal money. In a press conference last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said details should be coming soon.

“As soon as we have clarity from the feds, we'll make public exactly when those dollars will be forthcoming," he said.

In order to qualify for the federal $300 boost, Californians need to already be receiving at least $100 per week in state benefits. That requirement will leave out many lower-wage workers, as well as some freelancers with mixed sources of income.

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