Unemployment benefits

Federal Jobless Benefits Under Review in Texas Following President's Executive Order

Governor Greg Abbott says he’s hopeful Congress will act

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It’s still unclear when and if an extra $400 in federal unemployment benefits would be paid to Texans. President Donald Trump signed an executive order over the weekend to allocate the additional benefit, but states would be required to carry some of the cost.

The order comes after $600 in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation expired in July. Congress passed the additional benefit to keep people afloat during the pandemic. While the federal assistance was in place, Texas could receive up to $1,121 in weekly benefits. The state maximum benefit is $521. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the average weekly benefit is $349.

The Texas Workforce Commission said it is waiting for official guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor and is reviewing President Trump’s executive order. It requires states kick in 25% of the cost.

“We are looking into this, we are working with the Department of Labor and we will move forward as soon as we get some more guidance,” said Cisco Gamez, spokesperson for the Texas Workforce Commission.

In a memo obtained by NBC News, the Department of Labor said it would allow states to count existing unemployment benefits as part of the state’s cost share.

NBC 5 asked the U.S. Department of Labor whether any official guidance has been communicated to the State of Texas, but we have not heard back.

Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott said he spoke with Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week. Governor Abbott said he is hopeful congress will step in with a deal.

“The administration continues to negotiate with the Democrats both in the U.S. House as well as the U.S. Senate about what the plan will look like,” said Abbott.

“I have every reason to believe that when all the final deal is worked out, there will be a more robust deal that is struck between the administration and between congress to make sure that unemployment benefits will be provided adequately for those who have lost a job because of no fault of their own,” Abbott continued.

In the meantime, eligible unemployed Texans continue to rely on state benefits after the additional $600 benefits expired in late July.

Paul Patrick, a forklift operator in North Richland Hills, was furloughed in March. He tells NBC 5, he’s grateful for President Trump’s order.

“I don’t really know how that’s going to play out, but he said it and I believe it,” said Patrick.

Patrick said he would prefer not to rely on unemployment benefits, but he is consistently applying for jobs with no luck.

“I’ve been applying, and nobody responds,” Patrick told NBC 5.

“When it comes to this point, we are pushed into the corner. You can’t work, you can’t do anything,” he added.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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