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Extra Unemployment Benefits From FEMA Likely To Run Out This Month

The extra $600 per week that the CARES Act provided for unemployment benefits  expired at the end of July. Then, President Trump made FEMA funding available so jobless Arizonans  could collect an extra $300 per week. But that money may soon run out too.

Arizona’s Department of Economic Security has been adding FEMA Lost Wage Assistance to unemployment payouts for five weeks. But DES Director Michael Wisehart doesn't expect that funding to last much longer for the hundreds of thousands of Arizonans who are still out of work. 

“Right now the thing we know for sure is that we can pay this week. We have an expectation, but no certainty yet that we will be able to pay next week," Wisehart said in a call with reporters Wednesday. “Unfortunately, we are going to have very little notice when this happens, so it is likely that the LWA benefit will stop abruptly for individuals.” 

Wisehart said it’s  up to Congress to replace the additional unemployment benefits the CARES Act had provided. He said hopes Congress will opt for another set weekly dollar amount. Some in Congress have advocated for a variable amount based on a worker’s past earnings. Wisehart said that would be much more difficult for Arizona to distribute.

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Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.