That wave initially overwhelmed state labor offices. Some 46 states have now received $520 million in administrative funds from the second stimulus package, passed in mid-March. They are using this money to expand their capacity to handle record numbers of filers.
“We know that a number of states have now significantly increased staffing at their unemployment insurance offices,” Scalia said. “We are seeing signs that states are getting past the operational problems that some experienced with the initial large increase in filings.”
“There are a number of criteria that an individual can look at to see if they are eligible,” said John Pallasch, assistant secretary, noting that one is “a significant diminution of their work as a result of Covid-19.”
But Democratic lawmakers and advocates were concerned that the department’s guidance, issued in early April, was too narrow and could end up excluding some of these workers.
Three states — Rhode Island, Louisiana and Texas — have started administering the pandemic program, a Department of Labor spokesperson said. Many states have indicated that it could still be a few more weeks before they launch the program, which requires a much more extensive update to state agencies’ computer systems since it covers new categories of jobless Americans.