The Cuomo administration finally distributed unemployment insurance benefits this week to 2.26 million New Yorkers — $1.9 billion in total — just weeks after the White House accused the state of dragging its feet on the matter.
The state Labor Department said the jobless New Yorkers received retroactive federal Lost Wage Assistance benefits of $300 each for the weeks of August 2, 9th and 16th.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is overseeing the program, approved New York for a second and final round of benefits — for a maximum of six weeks in payments..
The Labor Department will process $300 LWA payments retroactively to about 2.3 million New Yorkers for the weeks of Aug. 23, 30th and Sept. 6, beginning next week.
“Over the last six months, we have moved heaven and earth to connect millions of New Yorkers with their benefits, including nearly $1.9 billion in Lost Wages Assistance payments distributed just this week,” said state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon.
Reardon blamed any snafus on the federal government, and noted benefits are limited to six weeks.
“While plagued with administrative roadblocks, the federal lost wages assistance program is now finally providing unemployed families with much-needed support — and it is unconscionable for the Federal government to once again cut Americans off from this support,” she said.
“Leaders in Washington D.C. must pass a comprehensive package that supports unemployed families and the state and local governments that are hurting from this pandemic. Anything less is simply unacceptable.”
Trump authorized the federal unemployment insurance by executive order on Aug. 8 after the $600-a-week payments provided by the CARES Act expired on July 31 and Congress deadlocked on an extension plan.
Cuomo initially opposed Trump’s alternative program as “laughable” and “impossible” when it was first announced because it required that states kick in an additional $100 a week for each unemployed worker — something he said cash-strapped New York couldn’t afford. The White House subsequently waived that requirement.
The White House had accused Team Cuomo of dithering in applying for the president’s offer of the $300 bonus to the unemployed through the $44 billion Lost Wages Program, and only did so after The Post inquired about it.
Labor Department officials announced last week that New York qualified for the program and would begin releasing funds.
In total, New York State has paid $44.5 billion in benefits to New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic — representing more than 21 typical years’ worth of benefits paid in just six months.
Meanwhile the Labor Department reported new jobless figures that show an improvement in the unemployment rate, which is still high .
The state unemployment rate dipped from 16 percent in July to 12.5 percent in August.
New York City’s unemployment rate dropped from 20 percent to 16 percent But there were still 626,000 fewer jobs in the city compared to August, 2019, when the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent.