BISMARCK — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved North Dakota's application for a national program that will pay some unemployed North Dakotans up to $900 for wages lost in August.
The grant program will allow Job Service North Dakota to retroactively pay an extra $300 per week to residents who were unemployed during the first three weeks of last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The payments are not anticipated to continue for claims filed after the first three weeks of August.
However, not all unemployed residents qualify for the payouts. The state estimates that just 17,600 residents — 41% of people claiming unemployment in state — will receive the added benefits. Other unemployed residents do not qualify for the program if the pandemic isn't the cause for their unemployment, if their regular payment is not more than $100 per week or if they're not actively looking for work as the state requires.
In all, the state estimates it will dole out $14.7 million to qualified residents around mid-September.
President Donald Trump unilaterally pushed through the $44-billion Lost Wages Assistance Program after Congress could not come to terms on an extension for a separate program that paid unemployed Americans an extra $600 during the first four months of the pandemic. States were given the choice to opt in or out of the program.
Gov. Doug Burgum announced last week that North Dakota would apply to join on to the program as more than 35 other states had done. Meanwhile, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem chose not to enroll her state in the program, saying the state had basically recovered from the pandemic's impacts on the job market.