A boost in jobless benefits began this week for thousands of residents here and statewide who have either been put on furlough or removed from their job during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The state started issuing an additional $600 in weekly jobless benefits next week, but the thousands of who have lost work due to the shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic must firs file their claim, Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission began dispersing the addition to the maximum weekly of $247 on Monday, April 13.

The unemployment benefits include those who receive “1099” tax forms, such as barbers and beauticians, self-employed workers, gig performers and many who work in the service industry – restaurants, barrooms and other entities.

The benefits are available for those who have been laid off, had a reduction in workhours, or were mandated to stay home by their employer, the government or healthcare professionals.

The additional $600 comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which Congress approved last month.

Recipients have between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. Saturday for eligibility for the following week’s claims. Workers can file online at www. laworks.net.

The best hours to file for the unemployment claims are between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. because of the extremely high call volume. Gov. Edwards said.

Those eligible for the additional money will receive retroactive payments back to either the date of eligibility or the date they signed their state agreement, whichever came later.

The payments will be retroactive to April 4. Gov. Edwards waived the two-week wait time for claims availability, but all recipients must apply online and check in weekly to receive the money, Edwards said. LWC has also temporarily waived the job search requirement.

The state received 277,000 unemployment over the last month alone, including 102,172 last week. A total of 103,000 claims were filed for fall of last year.

Across the nation, 6.6 million Americans sought unemployment last week. That figure equates to approximately one in 10 workers over the last three weeks.

The $600 week in additional pay expires with the final week of jobless benefits before July 31, 2020.

The LWC call center is open 8 a.m.to 7 p.m. A total of 400 employees are now working with the LWC to file the deluge of claims.