State’s unemployment trust fund remains solvent for the foreseeable future, officials say

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Chairs and tables are stacked inside of Casa Maria in Watson on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, one day after Gov. John Bel Edwards’ order to close all on-site dining in restaurants statewide due to the novel coronavirus.
David Gray | The News

BATON ROUGE, La. (The Livingston Parish News) – One-in-three eligible Louisiana workers is without a job per the most recent, real time unemployment figures.

Since March 22, 2020, the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) has paid approximately $1,025,775,306.56 in economic relief payments to residents of Louisiana. From these funds, over 404,000 Louisianans have directly received economic payments from the LWC. For comparison in all of 2019, LWC paid a total of $151,781,786 for 103,000 claimants. A breakdown of these payments is below.

Payments from LWC March 21, 2020 to May 4, 2020:

  • State of Louisiana UI Claims Paid: $254,660,653.15
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) ($600 per individual/per week): $733,541,602.39
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) ($107 – $247 per individual/per week) $37,573,051.02

However, in just the first six weeks of the program’s expansion due to the spread of the novel coronavirus and it’s effect on the economy, the state has paid out 22.5% of it’s unemployment trust fund which began the pandemic with just over $1.1 billion.

Louisiana’s unemployment trust fund pulls it’s revenue from unemployment taxes paid in by businesses. While rates have increased, they hover at roughly 1.4% per employee, based on the first $7,000 in taxable wages. That averages to $247 per week, per applicant paid from the state, while the federal government is pushing in $600 per applicant until July 31.

All told, with the federal enhancement, the LWC has issued over $1 billion to unemployed Louisiana residents.

The state and governor John Bel Edwards, are hoping that with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding rolling out to local businesses and the beginning of the Phase 1 of reopening the economy will help push some of the 404,000 Louisiana residents currently claiming unemployment back to work.

The total payments will grow as new applicants have grown, week-over-week, since the beginning of the pandemic. Livingston Parish is second in the capitol region for total claims and growth since the beginning of the pandemic, with over 13,000 signing up for unemployment.

The governor said, in a press conference last week, that while the federal benefits will remain steady at $600, the state’s payments of $247 will reduce once certain thresholds are met. According to Edwards, the first decrease in individual payments will come once the state’s trust fund drops below $750 million.

Edwards was not clear on how much the individual decrease would be.

McHugh David | The News

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