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Business/Economy

Alaska begins paying $600-per-week federal boost in unemployment benefits

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JUNEAU — The Alaska Department of Labor said Tuesday it has begun paying unemployed Alaskans a $600-per-week addition to their weekly unemployment benefits.

The addition allows eligible Alaskans to receive up to $970 per week in unemployment benefits through July 25. The state’s normal maximum unemployment payment is $370 per week, but Congress passed legislation last month to supplement that figure with federal support.

The federal legislation also extended unemployment benefits to self-employed Alaskans and contract workers, but the Department of Labor has not yet begun that program.

According to the Department of Labor, that program will begin April 20. Self-employed Alaskans who apply now and who have already applied can receive benefits retroactive to the date they applied or to the week of April 4, whichever is later.

The $600 supplemental unemployment payment is retroactive to April 4 for all Alaskans, not just the self-employed, and the department said Alaskans can expect an additional payment if they already received one for the week ending April 4.

The first federal payment delivered $12.85 million to 16,183 Alaskans collecting unemployment, the department said.

More than 36,000 Alaskans have applied for unemployment in a three-week span. That is more than 10% of the state’s workforce.

Some Alaskans have reported difficulty reaching unemployment officials by phone, but the Department of Labor said it is hiring additional call-center workers and advises Alaskans to apply for unemployment online through my.alaska.gov.

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