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87,000 unemployed workers likely won't qualify for federal aid, governor says

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BATON ROUGE - 10 days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to extend federal unemployment assistance at a rate of $300 per week, roughly 87,000 Louisiana workers don't stand to qualify.

After being approved for the assistance, Louisiana expects to have its first batch of funds in the coming days.

"We hope to have it by the end of the week, Gov. John Bel Edwards said. "Next week is when we believe that will be issuing these checks again."

The additional aid will be retroactive to August 1, meaning hundreds of thousands of Louisiana workers could see a much needed larger benefits check in the coming weeks. But, as has been the case since the president signed this executive order less than two weeks ago, guidance has once again changed, leaving tens of thousands of others out of a job, also out of luck.

New guidance from the Department of Labor this week will mean roughly 417,000 unemployed workers statewide will be eligible to receive the $300 per week in additional federal unemployment assistance, Edwards said. Another 87,000 workers, however, will not be eligible for federal aid.

67,000 of those workers currently receive less than $100 per week in state unemployment benefits, meaning they don't qualify, because the state must put up $100 per person, as a 25 percent match. The other 20,000 people did not list COVID-19 as their reason for being unemployed when originally applying with the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

Edwards says the state will be reaching out to those individuals to see if their circumstances have changed.

"Some of the individuals and most of those individuals may actually come back onto the roll of those who can receive these benefits," Edwards said.

To start, the state will receive $375 million from FEMA to cover these payments for the first three weeks of August. After that, FEMA will send the money on a weekly basis. Edwards again warned Tuesday, the money, coming from the Disaster Relief Fund, will only last five to six weeks, and just days after thinking every worker would qualify, he understands many are going to be left out.

"We know this is going to be a burden for those individuals who are not going to be receiving the $300 weekly benefit," Edwards said. "We also know that for individuals who were receiving $600, $300 dollars is not going to substitute that."

Edwards' office says he continues to reach out to the federal government to allow workers receiving less than $100 in benefits weekly to apply for this additional assistance.

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