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Idaho signs on for Trump's unemployment benefit bump

by Rebecca Boone
| August 17, 2020 4:00 PM

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Some Idaho residents will be able to get up to an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits under President Donald Trump's supplemental plan, Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced Monday, but the state won't be chipping in the required quarter match to bring the weekly amount up to the maximum $400 benefit level.

Idaho is one of at least 17 states that have said they will take the federal grants allowing them to increase unemployment checks under the president's stripped-down benefit plan. Dozens of other states were still evaluating the proposal on Monday.

“Idaho's economy is open, and most Idahoans have returned to work safely,” Little said in a prepared statement. “However, the number of available jobs reported in Idaho is still lower than the number of unemployed Idahoans. President Trump's new conservative plan ensures struggling American families can continue to pay their mortgages and avoid debt, which helps stabilize consumer spending and prevent a deeper recession."

The program makes additional weekly benefits of at least $100 and up to $300 available to unemployed residents who are already receiving at least $100 a week in unemployment. Little said the Idaho Department of Labor is looking at ways to ensure that people who currently receive less than $100 a week in unemployment benefits can get the boost as well.

The state's grant application still must be approved by FEMA before the additional payments can start. Little said they would be retroactive to Aug. 1.

The number of Idaho residents applying for unemployment dropped by 10% in the first week of August, according to the Idaho Department of Labor, but unemployment rates continue to run high during the coronavirus pandemic. The agency said the overall number of people collecting unemployment in the state dropped 4 percent to 20,263.

Idaho had more than 27,660 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The number is an undercount because not everyone infected with the illness is able to access testing, and some people are asymptomatic and may not know they are infected. At least 269 Idaho residents have died because of the coronavirus.