Extended benefits will likely come to an end for more than 135,000 unemployed workers in Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin, starting the week of April 7.
In these states, says advocacy group the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the job outlook has improved enough that extended benefits will be scaled back. Extended benefits also are expected to expire in Indiana starting April 16 and the week of April 21 in Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland and Washington state, according to NELP, which tracks when these benefits end and calculates how many people may be affected.
Until recently, so many states had run out of funding for unemployment and so many people were out of work that the federal government agreed to pay extended benefits reaching up to 99 weeks to help out the long-term unemployed. Unemployed workers are eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits from most states. After that, they can receive up to 34 additional weeks of benefits through the temporary federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program enacted in 2008. That number rises to 53 weeks in states with especially high unemployment rates. Workers who exhaust their regular UI and EUC benefits can receive additional weeks of benefits through the permanent federal-state Extended Benefits (EB) program if their state’s unemployment insurance laws allow it. This map from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows each state’s maximum benefit period.
These changes in extended benefits for the 15 states come after Congress passed H.R. 3630 in February, which reauthorized the federal extensions of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits through the end of the year – but included provisions to slowly reduce the dollars going out for extended benefits throughout 2012. According to Stateline, “for the states affected, their current average three-month unemployment rate is lower than at any of the same three month periods in the last three years,” which triggers the reduction in extended benefits according to the new law. Below is a table of the triggers:
The calculations may seem complex, but as the economy improves, these are necessary steps to get unemployment funds stable once again. And what about the nation’s jobless? President Obama has called for a “re-employment insurance” system rather than an unemployment system, and the recent changes in law under H.R. 3630 aim to do just that. It includes programs that help move the jobless back into the work force, including training programs, work sharing programs and $1 billion for states to implement skills testing for the long-term unemployed.