Labor Dept. gives update on COVID-19 job loss assistance programs

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

The Idaho Department of Labor reported April 14 that it had received 77,430 claims for unemployment benefits over the course of three weeks — more than it handled in all of 2019. Amid the “tremendous backlog of work,” the agency paid out $17.95 million in benefits to Idahoans whose jobs have been affected by COVID-1 from March 23 to April 10. 

“We’re making progress on a huge backlog of claims and sending payments out to the people of Idaho,” Idaho Department of Labor Director Jani Revier stated in a news release. “We still have a lot to do to make sure the funds are administered correctly, but we are making progress.”

For those who still haven’t seen payment on their claims, they’ll just have to keep waiting. However, those who are receiving unemployment insurance benefits could start seeing the additional $600 federal benefit authorized by Congress under the CARES Act by the end of April.

According to Labor, the agency will start processing the $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit payments in the next two weeks.

“Idahoans currently filing or receiving benefits under the state’s regular unemployment insurance program already qualify for the additional $600 and do not need to take further action,” the Labor Department stated in the release. 

The federal benefit is retroactive to March 29 and ends the week ending July 25.

Meanwhile, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which is geared toward self-employed, contract employees and other workers not otherwise eligible for unemployment benefits, will take more time to put in place.

The new program from the U.S. Department of Labor requires the Idaho Department of Labor to make significant system upgrades to process payments, which likely won’t go out to claimants until May. According to the agency, it also expects more guidance from the feds regarding administration of the benefit, which is retroactive to Feb. 2 and ends Dec. 26.

Finally, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation gives jobless workers 13 weeks of payments added to the end of their regular unemployment benefits. In other words, claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer time than under normal circumstances. 

Also funded by the federal government, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is retroactive to March 29 and ends Dec. 26. As with Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the Idaho Department of Labor needs to upgrade its system, but agency officials anticipate payments will start later this month.

For more information and answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and applying for unemployment insurance visit

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