Gov. Lamont signs executive order expanding unemployment benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19

Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Tens of thousands of Connecticut residents are still out of work due to the pandemic. Friday came some good news for the state’s lowest wage earners.

When so many people suddenly found themselves out of work earlier this year, they were able to apply for unemployment benefits from not only the state, but the federal government, too. There was a minimum qualification for the federal help, however.

“So while the program helped more than 160,000 residents, 38,000 of their neighbors were disqualified because they receive less than $100 a week in unemployment benefits,” explained state Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby.

“Who are these 38,000 people earning less than $100 a week?” asked Governor Ned Lamont (D-CT). “They’re often single parents, single mom, maybe working two or three jobs in and around minimum wage.”

“I just try to keep my head up you know and I just stay praying that’s all I can do,” said Gloria Gregory, of Hamden. 

She receives $17 a week in unemployment benefits. Well she says technically it’s $20 before taxes.

“They take out $3 with tax,” said Gregory. “I’m like oh my goodness it’s bad enough it’s a low amount.”

Governor Lamont has now signed an order that would retroactively raise their earnings to a hundred dollars a week, making them eligible for that federal money.

“I need that, yeah. That would definitely help me out. It’s been a struggle you know trying to get payment arrangements after payment arrangements,” said Gregory.

On average, those folks needed $43 extra dollars a week, so the state will pay that, making them eligible for an additional $300 in federal money. The state unemployment fund is borrowing $7.5 million in order to receive $55 million from the federal government.

“It’s been a struggle you know trying to get payment arrangements after payment arrangements,” said Gregory.

One hope is that the extra money will help the overall economy.

“Maybe get a little something extra for their child at Christmas or Chanukah,” Lamont said. “What that means, go shop at a local merchant.”

The other hope is that the federal government will keep charging states zero interest for borrowing all this money. Remember, money paid out in unemployment comes from a tax paid by businesses large and small.

If you are wondering if you are eligible for this extra federal benefit which you may have missed out on you would have had to have received unemployment benefits of less than $100 a week sometime within the six weeks between July 26 and Sept. 5.

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