The Louisiana Workforce Commission has paid over a billion dollars in unemployment payments since March 22nd. LWC Secretary Ava Dejoie says they’ve issued over 250 million dollars in state unemployment and over 840 million in federal dollars from the CARES Act to 404,000 Louisianans.

“That is more people than we have ever had on unemployment at any time, even after Katrina and even after the state trust fund went broke in 1986 and 87,” said Dejoie.

LWC paid out 151 million dollars to 103,000 claimants in all of 2019.

The rate of new claims is declining and Louisiana looks likely to enter Phase One of reopening economy this month.

Dejoie says if you return to work with reduced hours, report your earnings at the end of the week.

“It is really important that you let us know the exact amount of wages that you are earning so we can make a determination on if benefits are still due,” said Dejoie.

When you return to your normal work schedule, discontinue filing for benefits.

Dejoie also warns that within the next 30 days they’ll resume requiring work search documentation for beneficiaries, but they understand even if offered a job not everyone can work right now.

“Do they have underlying health conditions or are they taking care of a loved one? All of those things have to come into play,” said Dejoie.

(Story written by Matt Doyle/Louisiana Radio Network)