More federal funds allocated to COVID-related jobless costs

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear announced Friday he is directing $51.5 million in federal CARES Act funding to provide more than 1,500 employers, including public schools, universities, government entities and nearly 1,000 nonprofits, relief from unemployment costs.

“We wanted to provide relief to our schools, government entities and our non-profits who have been hit hard by this pandemic, but continued to do so much to help Kentuckians through this crisis,” said Gov. Beshear. “We need everyone ready to help us emerge from this pandemic prepared to build a better, brighter commonwealth for all Kentuckians.”

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During the pandemic, the federal government allowed states to provide relief to employers that reimburse the state 100% on unemployment insurance claims paid on their behalf. This group only had 50% of these costs covered by the federal government during the pandemic.

To eliminate the other 50% owed to the state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund by these employers, the Governor is applying CARES funds to cover the remaining costs.

Combining both the state and federal portions, the state unemployment trust fund will receive a $103 million boost to help continue to pay the federal unemployment insurance loan.

“This relief will help nearly 1,000 nonprofits keep their doors open to maintain services and meet the urgent needs of Kentuckians,” said Danielle Clore, chief executive officer for the Kentucky Nonprofit Network. “We appreciate Gov. Beshear’s recognition that Kentucky’s charitable nonprofits are on the frontlines in the battle to beat this disease and, as the fourth largest employer in the commonwealth, are essential to ensuring our communities will recover.”

The Governor has directed full payment of all billing statements for 1,568 Kentucky reimbursing employer accounts to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which includes the second quarter charge statements recently issued, as well as the third- and fourth-quarter charge statements.

Any reimbursing employer who has already paid their second quarter 2020 statement can request a refund online by visiting the Unemployment Insurance Employer Self-Service site https://kewes.ky.gov and clicking on “Request Refund.”

All unemployment benefit charges will resume to both contributory and reimbursing employer accounts beginning Jan. 1, 2021. Reimbursing employers do not contribute to the fund. They are only responsible for reimbursing the fund for any benefits paid out to workers.

This year the governor has distributed $1.6 billion in federal CARES funding.

Among other areas, this funding provided additional unemployment relief and support for Kentuckians impacted:

  • $298 million to pay benefits and make unemployment insurance system improvements;
  • $200-300 million to help repay the federal unemployment insurance loan to assist contributing employers;
  • $15 million for an Eviction Relief Fund;
  • $15 million for a Utility Relief Fund, which already has supported families struggling at the hands of the pandemic;
  • $40 million to create a Food and Beverage Relief Fund.

Beshear also launched the Team Kentucky Fund, which has helped Kentuckians pay their rent or mortgage, electric bills, natural gas, sewage, propane and waste, and buy groceries. At the height of a global recession, Kentuckians, Kentucky businesses and even children, some of whom sent a dollar and a note, donated more than $3.7 million to help their neighbors.

The record level of unemployment spurred by the pandemic and years of painful staffing cuts, location reductions and failure to upgrade IT systems slowed the state’s ability to help many Kentuckians who lost jobs through no fault of their own. Beshear has committed to doing more to fix these historical issues.

Since the pandemic began, there have been more than 1.3 million unemployment insurance claims. Kentucky has paid out more than $5 billion in wage replacement assistance when Kentucky workers needed it the most. Kentucky also was one of the few states to provide the additional $100 to claimants in conjunction with the $300 from the Lost Wages Assistance Program.