Idaho unemployment numbers trigger rare extended benefits

The Idaho Department of Labor says so many Idaho workers lost jobs so quickly this year due to the coronavirus pandemic that an unemployment extended benefits program will go into effect that was last used during the Great Recession in 2009.

The program will give people receiving weekly unemployment payments up to 13 weeks of additional unemployment insurance beyond the normal 20-week maximum period.

Idaho won’t pay for the extra unemployment payments because a federal program called the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation that’s part of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue package approved by Congress in March offers the extended benefits.

That means the state does not yet need to tap into its unemployment insurance fund for the extended benefits. That fund comes from taxes paid by employers.

Idaho’s current unemployment rate is 8.9%. The agency said last week it paid nearly 42,000 unemployment claims in the regular program as well as about 3,500 weekly payments in extended benefits under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

In addition, the agency said, it sent out about 57,000 weekly checks to the self-employed.

The maximum weekly payment is $405. Unemployed workers can also receive a $600 weekly federal supplement that’s scheduled to stop at the end of July.

Unemployment benefits in Idaho could be extended for another six weeks in August after state officials re-evaluate the state’s joblessness scenario. (AP)

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