Gov. Ned Lamont announced the signing of an executive order Friday morning expanding unemployment benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19.
The order directs the state Department of Labor to expand eligibility for the Federal Lost Wages Assistance Program to Connecticut residents who previously did not qualify.
The federal program, which added a supplemental $300 weekly to benefits for Americans who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only applied to workers who had a minimum benefit of $100 per week.
While 160,000 state residents received supplemental benefits, 38,000 others who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic received no additional support because they fell under the $100 per week threshold. Now, those workers will retroactively receive supplemental benefits for the six weeks the program ran, from July 26 to September 5.
“The governor’s executive order corrects this by directing the agency to use the state’s trust fund to increase the weekly benefit for those 38,000 people to $100 per week,” said Connecticut Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby. “This is a temporary increase that covers only the six weeks that the original program ran, but it is an important increase that allows those claims to bring in potentially up to another $1,800 each.”
While the state will have to invest more than $7 million to make these residents eligible for the federal funding, Lamont said the benefits will far outway the costs, estimating that Connecticut will receive 55 million additional dollars in federal funding.
“We’ve got to use every tool in the toolkit as we try and maximize support for working families in the state as we continue to wait for the federal government to figure out what they’re going to do,” Lamont said.
While this executive order only applies retroactively, Lamont suggested that a similar program could be rolled out if the Federal Lost Wages Assistance Program is reinstated.
“It looks like the $900 billion compromise budget may be making some progress in Washington,” Lamont said. “That would extend the $300 for another four months, so maybe we can leverage that again in this coming year.”