Jobless to get weekly aid despite Trump's late approval

Jobless to get weekly aid despite Trump's last-minute approval: US Labour Department

Unemployed Americans who risked not receiving jobless aid this week due to President Donald Trump's delay in signing off on it will indeed receive the money, the Labor Department said on Tuesday.

Congress in March expanded the US unemployment safety net as the coronavirus pandemic struck, creating the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for freelancers and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) for the long-term unemployed but only funding them until the end of the year.

After months of stuttering negotiations, Congress agreed to reauthorise those programs in a $900 billion spending package passed only days before their December 26 expiration, but Trump objected to its contents before eventually signing it on Sunday -- one day after those programs lapsed.

Because many states determine benefit payments for the week ahead on Sunday morning, experts feared Trump's evening signing of the bill could mean benefits under the two programs wouldn't be paid this week.

In a statement to AFP, a Labor Department spokesperson said it would work with individual states to make sure payments under the programs, which were reauthorized until March 14, continue uninterrupted.

"As states are implementing these new provisions as quickly as possible, the department does not anticipate that eligible claimants will miss a week of benefits due to the timing of the law's enactment," the spokesperson said.

An interruption in weekly jobless payments would have increased the pressure on Americans put out of work by the world's largest Covid-19 outbreak.

The United States saw an unemployment spike to 14.7 percent in April after business shutdowns were ordered to stop the virus from spreading.

Though it decreased to 6.7 percent in November, Labor Department data released last week said more than 800,000 people on average are losing their jobs each week, a level above the worst single week of the 2008-2010 global financial crisis.

As of the week ended December 5, the Labor Department said more than 9.2 million people were receiving PUA benefits and over 4.8 million were receiving PEUC.