Maryland has asked the federal government to supplement the state’s unemployment insurance system with an extra $300 a week in benefits, Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday.
“Maryland is doing much better on our health metrics than most of the rest of the country, we are doing much better on our economic recovery than most of the rest of the country, and we want to do whatever it takes to keep it that way,” Hogan said in a statement. “But far too many Marylanders are still struggling to make ends meet during this pandemic. With this critical funding, we can help those struggling Marylanders weather this storm, get back on their feet, and recover.”
The state’s submitted the request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) grant. If the request is approved the Maryland Department of Labor’s Division Unemployment Insurance will work in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor to manage and distribute the funds-which should be available starting in late-September and will cover filing periods dating back to the week that ended on Aug. 1.
Maryland’s Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson expressed gratitude for opportunity to apply for the funds.
“Our department is grateful for the opportunity to apply for federal funding from FEMA to provide additional financial support to unemployed Marylanders as our state continues to recover from the impact of COVID-19,” Robinson said in a statement. “While it will take some time to work with the federal administration to implement this new program, all claimants will receive benefit payments retroactive to their earliest date of eligibility within the new program.”
The benefits will be available to eligible claimants through Dec. 26, 2020.
Maryland will match 25% of the federal contribution.
Maryland’s unemployment rate is at 8%, which is better than that of 32 other states in the country. Maryland’s monthly jobs report will be released on Friday.
Currently, Maryland claimants can receive a maximum of $430 a week in benefits. With the federal supplement they would be eligible for up to $730 a week in benefits.
Prior to the expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits on Aug. 1, Americans were eligible for an extra $600 a week from the federal government.
Congress has yet to reach an agreement to reinstate enhanced unemployment benefits.
Negotiations continue behind the scenes on a new coronavirus relief package.
There are 101,649 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Wednesday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 3,522 people in Maryland have died from the virus.
The state’s positivity rate is at 3.22%, which is better than that of most states in the country.
Maryland has tested nearly 1.7 million people for COVID-19.