FILE - U.S. Coast Guard New Orleans Louisiana

A Coast Guard vessel patrols the Mississippi River facing the Riverwalk in New Orleans

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Gov. John Bel Edwards on Friday directed the Louisiana Workforce Commission to provide unemployment insurance benefits to more than 1,500 federal employees currently working without pay, a group previously disqualified by law from receiving such benefits.

However, that money is supposed to be repaid once the partial federal government shutdown ends and the workers receive back pay.

“For many of these employees, UI benefits will serve as somewhat of a stopgap until the federal shutdown ends,” Louisiana Workforce Commission Secretary Ava Dejoie said in a prepared statement.

Louisiana joins Colorado, California, Vermont and the District of Columbia in paying benefits to all furloughed federal government workers, Louisiana officials say. About 6,000 federal workers in Louisiana are not being paid.

“The U.S. Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents, and countless others are among those workers affected by the 35-day long government shutdown,” Edwards said. “Remember, it was the Coast Guard that rescued 33,500 people after Hurricane Katrina, and the Port of New Orleans recently announced that it moved more containers in 2018 than at any time in its history. Those facts, coupled with the millions of visitors preparing to descend upon Louisiana for Mardi Gras season, make these workers crucial to our state’s safety and welfare.”

As of Thursday, 427 furloughed workers had applied for unemployment insurance benefits. Of those, 113 had received their first payment, state officials say.

Louisiana’s maximum weekly benefit is $247.00. The maximum eligibility period in Louisiana is 26 weeks, for a total maximum benefit of $6,422

This article originally ran on watchdog.org.

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