A sign in the window of a business on South Franklin Street in downtown Juneau on April 14, 2020. State officials say additional employments payments will be sent out next week. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

A sign in the window of a business on South Franklin Street in downtown Juneau on April 14, 2020. State officials say additional employments payments will be sent out next week. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

State says increased unemployment payments start next week

Alaskans will receive a $300 boost from FEMA

State unemployment insurance payments are scheduled to begin next week, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development said in a statement Tuesday.

“Eligible UI recipients currently receiving at least $100 in state funded benefits will see a $300 increase in their weekly payment,” DOL said in an Oct. 13, update posted to its website. “If a filer has one or more dependents, the additional funding for those dependents will be included in the eligibility calculation.”

Those payments can’t come soon enough for Linda Kabealo of Wasilla, who said she’s been expecting payments for weeks now.

“As time’s gone by it’s worsened for me,” Kabealo, 73, said. “I was not even able to pay my full rent, which caused my landlords to have some problems.”

Kabealo was one of several people who reached out to the Empire following an Oct. 6 article with a previous update on the payments. Not knowing when to expect the payments was causing Kabealo and others increased stress as time passed.

The boost in payments comes from a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant program for lost wages, authorized in an emergency order by President Donald Trump on Aug. 8. Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the program on Sept. 18, saying the payments would be coming soon but did not give a specific date.

[Increased unemployment payments expected this month]

DOL Deputy Commissioner Cathy Muñoz previously told the Empire that a large number of programming changes being made to allow to retroactive payments and staff training with FEMA and U.S. Department of Labor were extending the process.

Kabealo, who works as a behavioral health specialist at a residential treatment facility, said her employer was able to give her a few weeks of work, but that was only temporary.

About 40,000 people in Alaska received unemployment benefits in the last week of September, down from a weekly high of 68,000 recipients in mid-May, according to the Associated Press. About 12% of the state’s workforce receive the assistance, AP said.

The lack of unemployment benefits since the end of July was surely reverberating in the larger economy said DOL economist Lennon Weller, but it was too short of a time frame to see that reflected in any specific data.

“Things like rent, those tend to take time. Whether it’s defaults, evictions. Most landlords are in a pretty different financial situation than the tenants. That’s going to take months if not quarters to materialize. It’s certainly already having an impact, but in the official numbers it’s not really reflected.”

Kabealo said she expects the long-term impact to be noticeable.

“We’re really hurting. We’re going to lose cars, any kind of reputation with our landlord, schools require a payment,” Kabealo said of her grandchildren’s charter school. “We’re not closed in our houses anymore with this COVID thing, but we’re trapped with this COVID thing.”

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB-10) is in the fast Ice Jan. 2, 2020, approximately 20 miles north of McMurdo Station, Antarctica. (Senior Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi / USCG)
Coast Guard heavy icebreaker retasked for Arctic deployment

The ship typically spends these months breaking trail to McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance

The most recent state and local numbers.

This July 17, 2017 photo shows the Governor’s Mansion. The Calhoun Avenue residence will be open for trick-or-treaters the evening of Saturday, Oct. 31. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Governor’s Mansion to open for trick-or-treaters

“Not even a global pandemic could stop this spooky-fun event!”

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. Coronaviruses, including the newest one, are named for the spikes that cover their outer surface like a crown, or corona in Latin. Using those club-shaped spikes, the virus latches on to the outer wall of a human cell, invades it and replicates, creating viruses to hijack more cells. (NIAID / NIH)
CBJ reports 26 new COVID-19 cases

None are in the homeless population.

Blank Unemployment Benefits formq
State cites tech woes for delay in increased jobless aid

Payments had been expected this week.

The Juneau Police Department, March 20, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)
This is a police car.  It has always been a police car.
Police calls for Friday, Oct. 30, 2020

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read