Unemployed Mississippians may soon get a $300 boost to weekly benefits

Unemployed Mississippians may soon get a $300 boost to weekly benefits
Gov. Tate Reeves says Mississippi is set to seek extra unemployment payments from the federal government for people put out of work during the coronavirus outbreak. (Source: Eric Prouzet)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Many Mississippians are still out of work, but the President signed a Presidential Memorandum on Saturday, August 8, 2020, enabling electing states to offer “lost wages assistance” to certain unemployed workers receiving unemployment benefits.

Mississippi had been waiting to see if it would work financially. When they learned the money already being paid out would count as the required match from the state, they decided to move forward with requesting it.

Families like Kris Caraballo’s have been living with a lot of uncertainty since the $600 unemployment boost ended at the end of July. “If we lose everything we have, I don’t know what we’re going to do,” explained Caraballo. “I mean, I’m holding back tears. I’m sorry. This is hard.”

Tiffany Woods, whose husband has been unemployed since April, said, “It’s hard on him. It’s hard on me. He feels like he’s failing as a husband, as a father. He can’t provide for us.”

Caraballo was laid off indefinitely but told his job would be there once COVID-19 concerns subsided. He’s been picking up odd jobs till then but says it isn’t cutting it.

“Two-hundred-and-thirty dollars is formula, diaper wipes, no light bill, I mean, no rent,” he said of the weekly amount he’s receiving in unemployment currently. “It don’t cover everything it has to cover for us to survive. Our lights are very close to being off and our landlord wants us out.”

But the state’s maximum weekly benefit of $235 will likely soon be supplemented with an added $300 from the feds. “We’re announcing today that I have directed Employment Security to apply which we anticipate will be approved,” said Governor Tate Reeves Thursday.

Governor Reeves cautions this added money can’t become a crutch.

“These benefits will run out,” noted Reeves. “We don’t know exactly when at this time but there is a maximum amount of money that the administration can legally spend on this additional assistance.”

Still, it’s the announcement Caraballo had been waiting for. The boost won’t cover all their expenses but they believe they can get by while figuring out what’s next.

“I can’t go personally shake his hand but I will make a message,” said Caraballo. “Thank you. Thank you for helping my family.”

Governor Reeves says if the state is approved for the program, it will take a few weeks to get the Department of Employment Security computer system re-calibrated - but those who qualify will get this benefit back paid to August 1.

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