Waiting game continues for CNMI on Lost Wages Assistance Program


The CNMI Department of Labor continues to wait for approval on the CNMI’s eligibility for the Lost Wages Assistance Program that was launched back in August.

According to Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente, the CNMI is still waiting on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision on their application for the wage assistance program.

“Not yet, the Lost Wages program [for the CNMI] has not been approved,” she said.

The Lost Wages Assistance is a federal program that was launched back in August following President Donald Trump’s executive order to combat the economic crash caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program would basically replace the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program that expired back in July.

The program would add $300 for each week the program remains federally funded so if you receive unemployment benefits for the approved weeks and you are unemployed or working fewer hours due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, you may be eligible for the Lost Wages program.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, the program requires a 75%-25% matching, with the federal government providing $300 per person per month as federal contribution to eligible claimants from the week of unemployment ending Aug. 1, 2020. The local government would then provide the remaining $100 per person per month, for a total $400 monthly payout until December.

The administration has a ballpark estimate of a $17 million to $25 million funding needed to match the federal assistance program.

Since applying for the program, Benavente said the CNMI government has been looking at where to source the hundred dollars and has discussed the challenge with its FEMA partners.

To date, the CNMI has not had confirmation on whether the requirement to match 75%-25% can be waived.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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