Over the past four months, the federal government issued an extra $600 weekly payment for those receiving state unemployment insurance benefits.
For 932 people unemployed in Malheur County as of June, that program expired about a week ago. If all those applied, that means about $560,000 a week is disappearing from local households – and the local economy.
The county’s unemployment rate in June was 7.4%, a drop-off of 1.1% from May, according to the Oregon Employment Department.
The additional payments, called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, were issued by the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the CARES Act. The last opportunity to claim the $600 payment was July 25.
Dan Ramirez, self-sufficiency programs manager for the state Department of Human Services in Ontario, said with that payment dropping out, there is potential for new applications for the state benefit called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – the food stamp program.
“I am not very highly concerned as we have the staff to manage any increase of workload,” said Ramirez. “I don’t think anyone knows exactly what that increase of SNAP applications will be, but I feel we are prepared to deal with it.”
People in Oregon who filed a claim for regular unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits between March 29 and July 25 will receive the extra $600 for weeks they were eligible “as part of their backpay when their claim is processed,” according to a spokesperson for the Employment Department.
Anyone seeking unemployment benefits after July 25 won’t get the weekly $600 bonus, the department wrote in a statement.
“We know that many Oregonians have been counting on the extra $600 per week,” the department said. “Since the program began on March 29, we have paid out more than $2 billion in FPUC benefits, so this is going to have a significant impact on Oregon families and communities. Just last week, the department paid the extra $600 to more than 130,000 Oregonians, and that doesn’t include some Oregonians whose claims have not yet been processed.”
The agency couldn’t provide details on how many Malheur County residents have received the extra benefit.
People unemployed in the state may qualify for support with a number of payments, including rent, utilities, food and healthcare, according to the employment department’s statement. The employment department encouraged unemployed Oregonians to visit 211info.org or call 211 to learn about benefits that may be available to them, with free interpretation provided.
News tip? Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian by email at [email protected] or call 503-929-3053.
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