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Some Californians Would Be Left Out Of Trump's Plan To Extend Unemployment Benefits

Gov. Gavin Newsom. (via Governor's office live stream)
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Over the weekend, President Trump issued an executive order that would partially replace the $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits that expired last month.

But it's not clear the state will go along with Trump's plan. And even if it did, many Californians would not be eligible for the benefits.


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Trump's order would provide unemployed workers $300 per week in federal benefits. States would have to chip in an additional $100 to bring the total to $400 per week on top of whatever people are already receiving in state benefits.

Governor Gavin Newsom said in a news conference on Monday that he'd hoped to see passage of the Congressional Democrats' plan to extend the $600 per week in federal benefits.

He said $400 per week is better than nothing -- but the federal government would need to front the full cost in order for California to participate. Otherwise, he estimated it would cost California $700 million per week to implement Trump's plan.

"The state does not have an identified resource of $700 million per week that we haven't already obliged," Newsom said. "There is no money sitting in the piggy bank."

Even if California were to enact Trump's plan, many freelancers and low-income workers in the state would be left out.

That's because the President's order requires unemployment recipients to receive "at least $100 per week" through existing state unemployment programs. Anyone earning less would not qualify for the extended federal benefits.


Woodland Hills resident Judith Pomposo earns the vast majority of her income from running a small promotional products business, making things like t-shirts, business cards and uniforms for other companies.

But she's getting just $67 in state unemployment benefits because, like many self-employed workers, she also has a part-time job on the side working as a restaurant hostess. She earns W-2 employment wages through that job. And under state rules, that was the only source of income used to calculate her benefits.

"I can't live off of $67 a week," Pomposo said. "I'm a single parent, and I don't know how I'm going to survive."

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Culver City freelance makeup artist Veronica Sinclair is in the same situation, earning just $77 per week based on a small number of makeup jobs that paid her as a W-2 employee.

She said her savings could last a few more months. But it doesn't look like her industry will recover anytime soon, and she doesn't know what other kind of work she'll be able to find.

"I feel completely unsure about how I'm going to pay my bills," Sinclair said. "I feel really frustrated. There are people that are just being left in the dust, and I'm one of those people."