Idaho participating in federal Lost Wages Assistance program

Governor Brad Little announced today the State of Idaho will participate in the Trump Administration’s new conservative plan to offer extended unemployment benefits in order to continue our economic rebound.

“Idaho still has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, thanks to the investments and creativity of Idaho’s businesses in safely reopening,” Little said. “We’re choosing to participate in President Trump’s new program as part of a comprehensive approach to our economic rebound, which includes small business grants and return-to-work incentives.”

President Donald Trump issued an executive memorandum earlier this month creating the Lost Wages Assistance program and replacing the recently expired Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which paid an extra $600 per week to those receiving unemployment benefits.

Under the new program, Idahoans receiving a weekly benefit amount of at least $100 and who self-certify they are unemployed due to COVID-19 will receive the extra $300 per week.

The governor intends to seek five weeks of assistance and will evaluate again after that point.

To ensure individuals who need it most are receiving the new benefit, Little directed the Idaho Department of Labor to identify ways to ensure the $300 per week in additional benefits is also provided to individuals who receive less than $100 per week in unemployment benefits.

“Idaho’s economy is open, and most Idahoans have returned to work safely,” Little said. “However, the number of available jobs reported in Idaho is still lower than the number of unemployed Idahoans. President Trump’s new conservative plan ensures struggling American families can continue to pay their mortgages and avoid debt, which helps stabilize consumer spending and prevent a deeper recession.”

Idaho is finalizing its application to FEMA this week, and payments would start after FEMA approval. Payments will be retroactive to August 1.

The state’s participation in Trump’s new program is part of Idaho’s comprehensive approach to continue strengthening the economy. To date, nearly 30,000 Idahoans have received Return to Work incentives, saving taxpayer dollars and benefitting more than 4,800 businesses that needed workers back on the job.

More than $75 million was distributed to 8,700 Idaho small businesses in cash payments of up to $10,000. The Idaho Rebound Cash Grants helped the smallest of Idaho businesses impacted by COVID-19, from the self-employed to companies with under 50 employees.

The state also made PPE available to small businesses and allowed local governments to use relief dollars to support businesses. In addition, the new public safety initiative reduces property taxes for those in participating cities and counties.

“Many Idahoans lost jobs and income this year due to the pandemic, and a lot of them had never encountered the unemployment line before,” Little said. “We want people working, and President Trump’s new conservative plan strikes the right balance of supporting families while jobs continue to come back.”

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