A proposal by Republican state legislators could have the effect of cutting the maximum number of weeks of unemployment benefits by half or more.
The new proposal would link the maximum duration of state unemployment benefits to the state’s unemployment rate. In all but the worst economies, the proposal would result in Wisconsin offering fewer weeks of unemployment benefits than the current maximum of 26 weeks. The table below shows the maximum number of weeks of unemployment benefits proposed at each unemployment rate.
If this policy had been in place over the past decade, jobless workers would have had access to far fewer weeks of state-funded unemployment benefits. The chart below shows the number of weeks of unemployment benefits that would have been available during each quarter of the last decade. The current maximum of 26 weeks of state-funded unemployment benefits would have been available only at the peak of the recession, if this policy had been in place. Read more
Small Disagreement Suggests Deep Dispute over Role of Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council
The state Assembly passed a bill Wednesday to approve a bipartisan idea, but in the process rekindled debate about respect for collective bargaining. What made the debate interesting and significant is that it could have been avoided by simply passing the version of the bill approved by the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Advisory Council, with the full support of the labor and business groups on that advisory body.
The substantive merits of the debate, which concerned only a small part of the bill, are far less important than the procedural matter of whether the Legislature decides this session to depart from the long practice of deferring to the recommendations of the UI Advisory Council. The Council uses a consensus process that provides stability to the state laws relating to unemployment benefits and taxes. Both the labor and business groups prefer that stability to the erratic swings in the UI system that could occur if the law is changed significantly every time control of the legislature changes hands.
he automatic budget cuts included in sequestration would harm Wisconsin’s families. But it would be even worse to replace sequestration with deeper cuts in domestic programs, as some members of Congress are advocating.
Work Sharing Bill Could Be the One Easy Issue in a Very Contentious Session on Unemployment Insurance Policy
In the last couple of years, Wisconsin hasn’t exactly been aggressive in pursuing opportunities for federal funding. However, I’m guardedly optimistic that state policymakers will decide to take advantage of federal start-up funds to help initiate a work sharing program that allows employees whose hours have been reduced to collect partial unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.
As I explained in a WCCF blog post yesterday, State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) presented a draft of work-sharing legislation at a recent meeting of the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council, which advises the Legislature and Governor on UI issues. The council agreed to forward the proposal to the U.S. Department of Labor for review – to ensure that Wisconsin would qualify for federal start-up funding under a law passed by Congress about a year ago that encourages states to adopt this type of work-sharing legislation. Read more
The maximum duration of federally funded unemployment benefits will drop in Wisconsin next month because of a reduction in the state’s unemployment rate over the last several months. We’ve been following this story for the past year, as federal policy changes and a slow decline in unemployment have triggered several contractions in the length of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.
The decline in Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has followed a roller coaster path this year, which caused the duration of benefits to fluctuate as the 3-month average unemployment rate dropped below 7.0% early last summer and then rose back above that level in the fall. Because it’s again below 7% (currently 6.7%), the maximum length of benefits for the long-term unemployed will drop in February to 54 weeks, from the current limit of 63 weeks.
According to a letter sent to legislators Friday by the Department of Workforce Development, approximately “10,500 Wisconsin UI claimants who exhaust benefits in the federal EUC Tier 2 program during the weeks following February 9, 2013 will not be able to move into Tier 3, per the federal government.”
Although I’m very sorry to see the duration of benefits reduced, I think there’s some logic to phasing down these benefits as the economy improves. That’s a political compromise that is far preferable to the abrupt elimination of all the federally funded unemployment benefits, which was narrowly averted by the fiscal cliff legislation enacted a few weeks ago.
Jon Peacock Read more
One of the effects of the nation’s ongoing economic sluggishness has been a persistently high unemployment rate, including an especially stubborn increase in long-term unemployment. There are now more than 5.6 million Americans who have been unemployed at least six months, and as the new State of Working Wisconsin report indicates, the number of Wisconsinites unemployed for six months or more was three times higher in 2011 than in 2000. (See our recent blog post about that report.)
Nevertheless, fiscal conservatives in Congress seem intent upon rapidly phasing out federal jobless benefits for the unemployed. As my co-worker Tamarine Cornelius wrote in a Capital Times op-ed column, this week brought bad news for many jobless Wisconsinites who now get unemployment insurance benefits. The latest step in the phase-out of federal assistance for the long-term unemployed took effect on September 2. The phase-out is illustrated in the chart below.
Thousands of Wisconsin workers who have been unemployed for the past year will begin losing their unemployment insurance benefits later this month because of a change approved by Congress earlier this year, according to a new policy brief issued by the Wisconsin Budget Project.
Those jobless workers, who have been actively seeking employment for 60 weeks, will lose 13 weeks of eligibility for federal unemployment benefits. Those benefits average about $250 per week in Wisconsin.
Losing about $1,000 a month will be a blow for the thousands of Wisconsin workers struggling to find jobs and feed their families. It will also be a blow to the state economy, since those families will have $1,000 less to spend at local businesses. With the state economy still stuck in neutral, it is a poor time to take money out of circulation.
Up until June 23, jobless workers in Wisconsin could receive up to 73 weeks of benefits if they lived in a state where the unemployment rate has averaged at least 6 percent for the past three months. Read more
As of Saturday, the maximum duration of unemployment benefits available for jobless workers in Wisconsin will shrink by 3 months, from 86 to 73 weeks. That’s because Wisconsin’s unemployment level is low enough that our state no longer qualifies for a certain set of federally-funded unemployment benefits referred to as Extended Benefits. Nearly 8,000 out-of-work Wisconsin residents receive an average of $258 in weekly benefits through the Extended Benefits Program.
The number of weeks of unemployment benefits available is likely to shrink several times in coming months, under the terms of the Congressional compromise approved in February, which continued the federally funded extension. Jon Peacock’s blog post last month, Length of Unemployment Benefits to Drop Sharply in April and Probably Again in Late May, explains the mechanics of why the length of jobless benefits is shrinking. One key factor is that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has slipped below 7.0 percent (even though Wisconsin has trailed well behind most of the nation in job growth). Read more
Despite Little Job Growth, Drop in Unemployment Rates Triggers Shorter Jobless Benefits
The long-term unemployed can currently receive up to 86 weeks of jobless benefits in Wisconsin – including 26 weeks of regular state unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, then up to 47 weeks of federally-financed Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC), followed by up to 13 weeks of federally-funded Extended Benefits (EB). However, the federal benefits are ending or phasing down in some states with lower unemployment rates, and the maximum period of federally-funded benefits in Wisconsin (now 60 weeks) is likely to drop in three steps to just 28 weeks in September.
DWD announced this week that the decline in Wisconsin’s unemployment rate in recent months means that eligibility for the 13 weeks of Extended Benefits will end on April 7. EB will no longer be available in Wisconsin after that date (although there’s a remote chance EB could resume later – if there’s a significant increase in the state’s average unemployment rate). Read more
For the first time in a long while, a monthly jobs report showed national employment growth that was well ahead of expectations. The increase of 243,000 jobs shown in last Friday’s report, coupled with the drop in the unemployment rate to 8.3%, is very encouraging news. Nevertheless, the U.S. economy has a long way to go before it we can say it’s healthy, and the number of long-term unemployed Americans who need extended federal jobless benefits remains at an extremely high level.
A Journal Sentinel article by John Schmid notes that there were still 12.8 million jobless Americans in January, which is more than twice the number of people (of all ages) in Wisconsin. He added to that figure the 8.2 million people who are under-employed and 2.8 million discouraged workers (who have dropped out of the labor force), bringing the total of unemployed or underemployed Americans to 23.8 million. That’s the equivalent of a little more than 4 times the Wisconsin’s total population! Read more