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Oregon will apply for $300 weekly federal benefit for unemployed workers

If approved, unemployed Oregonians would be able to get an extra $300 per week for an estimated three to five weeks.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Employment Department (OED) announced on Monday it will apply for the federal government’s new assistance program for unemployed workers.

If approved, unemployed Oregonians would be able to get an extra $300 per week for an estimated three to five weeks through FEMA’s Lost Wages Assistance program, which President Donald Trump authorized earlier this month. 

More than half of the states have already applied and been approved to receive the grant, which was authorized by President Donald Trump earlier this month.

That extra boost would help Oregonians who lost their job months ago when the state shut down. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 500,000 people have filed for unemployment in Oregon, causing major delays in people receiving funds. Some Oregonians have been waiting on benefits since the beginning of the pandemic. The state’s unemployment rate was 10.4% in July. 

The extra $600 per week benefit through the federal government's CARES Act, which helped so many people during the first months of the pandemic, expired at the end of July. 

In a statement, David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the OED, said more federal help is needed.

“While well-intended, this program does not meet the needs of unemployed Oregonians. We need Congress to pass a much more robust program to give Oregonians the help they need and deserve in this pandemic,” said Gerstenfeld. “While this program does not provide enough support, the employment department is committed to getting all assistance possible to Oregonians."

The employment department will have an estimate of when payments could start after the state’s application is approved. Payments will be retroactive, going back to the week ending Aug. 1.

Last week, Oregon launched a $35 million relief check program that was created to issue a one-time payment of $500 to 70,000 Oregonians still waiting for unemployment benefits.

Just three days later, the program ended after all the checks had been distributed.

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