The Employment Security Department issued a news alert yesterday that says the state’s unemployment rate was lifted enough to galvanize nine weeks of long-term unemployment benefits that were turned off back in August.
The state’s unemployment rate was affected by the federal government furlough that occurred in October and has, in turn, pushed the unemployment number back up to make our state eligible for these additional nine weeks of unemployment.
For those that are unfamiliar with how it works, people that do not have a job in our state can request up to 54 weeks of unemployment benefits, which include 26 weeks of what the state regularly pays and an additional 28 weeks of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) that is funded by the federal government.
EUC benefits are paid based on a four-tier system where all states qualify for tier one, but each state’s unemployment rate average over a three month period dictates if they become eligible for tiers two through four.
Our state moved out of tier four in April, 2012, when the average over three months was below nine percent. In August of this year, our tier three status was removed because the average over three months had fallen to below seven percent.
Our state’s three-month average at seven percent has triggered the Department of Labor for the federal government to allow our state’s Employment Security Department to restart tier three benefits for EUC on December 8. This news also allows those folks that are unemployed and that used all of their tier two benefits after August 10 to be eligible for tier three benefits starting the week of December 8.
This is huge news as our state has over 20,000 people in the first two tiers of EUC and it’s expected that approximately 11,000 people could be eligible to claim benefits in tier three. However, it’s important to note that the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program will end on December 28 unless it is voted for extension by Congress.