Another 712 Anne Arundel County residents and 11,324 Marylanders filed an initial jobless claim the week ending Sept. 5 as the state begins Friday to deliver an additional $300 in federal benefits to an estimated 300,000 Marylanders.
A “Lost Wages Assistance” program, called LWA for short and funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, begins Friday, more than a month after the federal $600 boost to state’s unemployment benefits expired in July. The LWA program offers laid off and furloughed workers $300 a week in additional benefits.
Unemployed Marylanders can receive a maximum of $430 a week from the state. The labor department estimates 300,000 Marylanders will soon receive a maximum of $1,800 in retroactive federal benefits.
The economy added nearly 1.4 million jobs in August, and the unemployment rate sank to 8.4% from 10.2% in July. Those improvements came despite a summertime surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases and the failure of Congress to pass another rescue aid package that most economists say is essential to sustain any recovery.
The August job gain was also the smallest in four months and suggested many of the springtime job cuts have become permanent.
The FEMA program was approved for six-weeks of $300 payments. Maryland received a federal grant of $718 million to fund those payments. The supplement is intended as a temporary, stopgap measure while awaiting congressional action.
To be eligible for the new funds, you need to have received at least $100 a week in unemployment during a six-week period that began with the last week of July. Starting Friday, eligible claimants can go on Maryland’s Beacon One-Stop unemployment insurance website to certify that they lost work because of the pandemic.
Maryland officials also announced Wednesday that they are updating the Beacon unemployment insurance system. It will be down next week from 5 p.m. Wednesday, September 16, to 12:01 a.m. Sunday, September 20, for the update. State officials promise new features, including giving claimants the ability to file appeals and respond to questions.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jean Marbella and The Associated Press contributed to this article.