The $600 per week in federal unemployment assistance for Alaskans ended at the end of July, but on Thursday Gov. Mike Dunleavy authorized the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development to provide a $300 weekly increase in state assistance for those who are still unemployed.
“After reviewing in detail all of the federal unemployment aid options presented to me and my team, choosing to give $300 more per week allows us to use the state’s unemployment trust fund and helps us to best serve Alaskans who need unemployment assistance across the entire state as they weather a very difficult period in our history,” Dunleavy said in a release.
The benefits will draw from the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds while the Department of Labor works through the FEMA application for federal funds.
“This option ensures additional resources to UI claimants in the quickest manner possible without compromising the state budget,” Department of Labor Commissioner Tamika Ledbetter said in the press release. “It also keeps in place increased benefits during the time period leading to a longer term Congressional solution.”
About 88,000 Alaskans have received unemployment benefits since March 1, for a total of about $700 million in federal and state funds so far, according to the release.
In the August issue of the Department of Labor’s monthly analysis of Alaska economic trends, state economists Lennon Weller and Dan Robinson looked at the impacts that the end of federal unemployment benefits would have on Alaska’s economy and found that the complete loss of the extra benefits would have meant a “sizable economic shock” across the state in August, equivalent to about $87 million in lost wages.
In June, for example, they found that 3,326 residents of the Kenai Peninsula Borough received $6,130,200 from the temporary federal add-on and $2,834,675 in state unemployment benefits. The additional benefits authorized by Dunleavy will replace half of the federal funds, which will mean an average of $575 per week for these recipients.
For information on how to apply for unemployment insurance, visit labor.alaska.gov/unemployment.
Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at firstname.lastname@example.org.