HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - A federal wage assistance program has resulted in more than 22,000 unemployed people in the state receiving an additional $35 million in federal payments over the past few weeks.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Thursday that it was the result of an executive order he signed last month that expanded eligibility in the federal Lost Wages Assistance Program.
The $35 million was paid to 22,837 unemployed Connecticut residents.
The LWA program offered an additional $300 in weekly benefits for six weeks late last summer to claimants who were unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lamont's office said.
However, to be eligible for the program, the Trump Administration required that all claimants must be receiving more than $100 per week in unemployment benefits, leaving thousands in the state unable to participate.
To address this situation, Lamont said he signed Executive Order No. 9P, which went into effect on Dec. 4, 2020, and retroactively and temporarily increased weekly unemployment benefits to $100 for many Connecticut residents, enabling them to qualify for the program and receive the additional benefits. The $7.35 million investment by the state unlocked the five-to-one match from the federal government and provided the average participating claimant with more than $1,700 in assistance.
Altogether, the program was expected to have generated more than $80 million in economic activity and provide small businesses across the state with a much-needed boost in consumer spending.
“What a difference this program made to those most in need of some good news this holiday season,” Lamont said. “Thanks to the hard work of our Connecticut Department of Labor, we were able to expand access to federal funding so thousands of Connecticut residents could better support themselves, their families, and the local economy. And thanks to the hard work of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation, enhanced unemployment benefits are once again available to residents facing financial hardship because of the pandemic.”
The recent CARES Act II extended the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provides an additional $300 per week to everyone receiving unemployment benefits, as well as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation Program, through mid-March. Connecticut residents are already benefiting from those programs.
“Expanding this program was the right thing to do, as thousands of filers were left out of the original program and many of these were low-wage earners,” said Connecticut Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby. “I applaud Gov. Lamont and his team for working so hard to find a way to level the playing field for claimants and bring tens of millions of federal dollars into the state for our residents.”