As unemployment claims hit a record high, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that out-of-work Californians will be getting an extra $600 on top of their weekly benefits starting Sunday.
“Many Californians are feeling the effects of this pandemic, and this added benefit is very important to our workers so they have needed resources during this difficult time,” Newsom said in a statement.
The extra $600 comes via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, a $2.2 trillion federal program often referred to as the CARES Act.
“For someone receiving the most recent average Unemployment Insurance payment of $340 a week, a usual biweekly payment would equal $680. With the extra payment, that biweekly payment would increase to $1,880,” the California Employment Development Department said.
The extra payments will kick in automatically for those eligible for at least $1 in a regular payment each week and continue for those still impacted through July 31, 2020, authorities said.
With businesses closing in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus as stay-at-home orders took effect statewide, many Californians have been left without jobs or are facing reduced hours and income.
California has processed about 2.3 million unemployment insurance claims in the past four weeks alone— an amount larger than the number of claims filed in all of 2019, according to Newsom’s office.
Last week, the California Employment Development Department processed 925,450 unemployment claims, a staggering 2,418% increase from the same time last year.
The department has paid out nearly $684.3 million in unemployment benefits to residents in the last four weeks, authorities said.
But even with hundreds of thousands of claims processed each week, many unemployed Californians have reported still not being able to get through to the department by phone in order to file their applications, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The state’s Employment Development Department is only open for four hours Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
State lawmakers have called on the agency to immediately expand call center hours, according to the Times.
More information on how to apply for unemployment insurance benefits and the $600 additional payments can be found on the EDD website.
Also as part of the $2 trillion stimulus package, the Internal Revenue Service will be sending electronic payments to millions of Americans as early as Thursday. Those who don’t have their direct deposit information on file at the IRS may not get checks until mid-August or September, according to the Washington Post.
Residents will receive the Economic Impact Payment of $1,200 for individual or head of household filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and $112,500 for head of household filers. Married couples with incomes up to $150,000 will get $2,400.