Good news or the bad news first? We all need good news so here’s this; the maximum benefit rate for unemployed workers will rise from $521 to $535 per week next month. The minimum benefit rate will rise from $69 to $70, not much but it is positive.

The bad news, those local Texans receiving unemployment benefits who qualified for an extra $300 in weekly jobless payments issued by the current Trump administration will no longer receive any additional funds, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

About 1 in 5 Texans drawing unemployment are not eligible for the $300 federal benefit, because to get the federal $300 each week, a recipient must first qualify for at least $100 per week in state unemployment benefits. That's sad considering it was only a $30 difference per week to get the much needed additional funds.

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early March, about 3.4 million Texans have applied for unemployment assistance as of Aug. 29. Texas has seen record-worst jobless rates in the months since the start of the pandemic.

Since March 13, 2020, TWC has taken 3.6 million initial claims and paid out $16.1 billion in unemployment benefits. Fortunately, Amarillo has been the only Texas city with the lowest unemployment rate to date.

To apply for unemployment benefits or to request payment visit ui.texasworkforce.org. All claimants should keep their mailing and email addresses current in the unemployment benefits services system to prevent delays in communication.

Together we can get Amarillo back and better.