State officials continue working to help those who are unemployed due to COVID-19. During a press conference Thursday, Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne cited a huge increase in the number of unemployment claims.
“For the week ending March 21, we had 62,777 new unemployment insurance claims filed,” he said. “Compare that to the prior week, where we had 3,400 filed.” He said that so far, it’s the restaurant and accommodations industries that have been hit the hardest, along with some manufacturing.
Payne noted that the governor has taken steps to make sure that as many out-of-work Hoosiers as possible are covered and is also waiving the one-week waiting period for benefits. Additionally, Payne said recent federal legislation includes provisions that will help independent contractors, self-employed individuals, and those with limited work histories.
“There are other add-ons from our federal partners, as well,” Payne added. “There’s a 13-week extension to the unemployment benefits expiration date. Currently, we have 26 weeks. The feds are adding an additional 13 weeks. They’re adding a $600-per-week emergency benefits increase for a four-month period.”
Payne suggested that those looking to apply for unemployment start by visiting Unemployment.IN.gov. He said it will typically take about 21 days for those applying for unemployment to get their first check.
Meanwhile, state officials are also keeping an eye on COVID-19’s impact on tax revenues. Office of Management and Budget Director Chris Johnston said that while the deferment of income tax payments until July 15 will provide much-needed relief for individuals and businesses, it will put a strain on the state’s resources. “April is our largest collection month,” Johnston explained. “It’s estimated at $2.2 billion for all tax types, and it’s also the largest income tax month. So that deferral will make a significant dent in those revenues, 40 to 50 percent, that won’t be collected until July.”
Johnston said the state won’t know how much COVID-19 will impact other tax types until the April revenue report. “Sales tax is the largest contributor to pay for our necessary services, the human and social services that are so desperately needed today and to address the demand while will increase in the coming months,” Johnston added.
He said the Indiana Bond Bank is working with state agencies to help local government entities that may be impacted by the waiver of property tax penalties.