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Out-of-work Texans could start seeing extra $300 in unemployment payments next week

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Volunteers load boxes of food into a car during a drive-thru food distribution hosted by the Central Texas Food Bank in Austin in June. Federal officials on Friday gave Texas the green light to begin providing out-of-work Texans with an additional $300 in weekly unemployment benefit payments. Credit: Allie Goulding/The Texas Tribune

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Unemployed Texans could begin receiving $300 in extra weekly jobless payments as soon as next week, a Texas Workforce Commission spokesperson said, following federal approval on Friday of funding that President Donald Trump announced in early August.

“We are anticipating to try to have that ready by next week so when people make their payment request, we can begin adding that on,” agency spokesman Cisco Gamez told The Texas Tribune. “It is possible there could be some delays, but it should be pretty quick.”

Texans who qualify will also receive $300 weekly for the previous weeks in August before the funding was approved, Gamez said, dating back to Aug. 1. This is an attempt to make up for the expiration of $600 weekly payments in July for people who were unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday’s approval by the Federal Emergency Management Agency of extra jobless relief comes two weeks after Trump issued an executive order that he said would add $400 to people’s unemployment checks to help them weather life upended by the coronavirus. The White House later clarified that the federal government would provide $300 per week, and states could decide whether they wanted to contribute an additional $100, which Texas does not plan to do.

More than 3.2 million Texans have applied for unemployment assistance since the pandemic began in March, and the state's economy has steered into an economic recession. Texas has seen record-worst jobless rates in the months since the pandemic began. In July, 8% of Texans were jobless, up from a near-record low of 3.5% in July 2019, and down from June, when 8.4% of Texans were unemployed.

Reducing extra unemployment benefits has left jobless Texans confused and uncertain about the future, forcing single parents to dip into their savings in order to pay for food, mortgages and car payments.