Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed an agreement on Sunday afternoon with the U.S. Department of Labor to implement the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for CNMI workers who were recently affected by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which is provided under the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, provides emergency unemployment assistance to workers who do not have unemployment insurance, which is not available within the U.S. territories.
The program will provide eligible workers weekly unemployment checks and jobless benefits for up to nine months.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our economy since February, and I directed our Department of Labor to conduct a study of how our businesses have been negatively impacted, as well as how we can take care of private sector workers.
After hearing many concerns from our businesses and their employees, I’m pleased to announce that we are well on our way to implementing the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program to help our people in need,” said Torres.
“I thank President [Donald J.] Trump and the [U.S.] Congress for providing this relief for America’s workers during this challenging time in our country. This is only the first step in the process, and [Labor] Secretary Vicky Benavente, her staff, and I will work with USDOL to make sure we roll out this relief package for laid-off employees within our community. Please be on the look-out for future announcements on this program soon,” he added.
Benavente said that CNMI DOL received the notice last week from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance Program administrator Gay M. Gilbert regarding the PUA program.
“The CNMI DOL estimates about 2,000-3,000 individuals will be eligible to apply for the new PUA program as part of the COVID-19 response. We sent the agreement that Gov. Torres signed to USDOL immediately after the governor signed, and we are looking forward to receiving additional guidance from USDOL ETA within the next day or so. Application period will be announced shortly thereafter, and the public will be informed on how to apply,” said Benavente. (PR)