Labor Dept. cuts state’s extended unemployment benefits

THE U.S. LABOR Department has cut the state’s extended unemployment benefits.
Posted 6/18/12

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island no longer qualifies for the state extended benefits unemployment insurance program, the U.S. Department of Labor told the R.I. Department of Labor and Training on Monday.

The maximum number of weeks to collected unemployment insurance will drop from 99 weeks to 79 weeks.

According to a release announcing the cut, Rhode Island was the last state in New England to trigger off of the federal program.

The state extended benefits program is the third in a series of three active unemployment insurance programs in the Ocean State. It can provide up to 20 weeks of benefits to qualifying job seekers.

More than 1,800 Rhode Islanders are currently enrolled in the program, according to the release.

“It is important to note that neither regular unemployment insurance, which offers up to 26 weeks of benefits, nor the federal emergency unemployment compensation program, which offers up to 53 weeks of benefits, will be affected by the end of the state extended benefits program,” said the DLT announcement.

To qualify for the state extended benefits program, a state must have a three-month moving employment average that is at least 110 percent higher than the same three-month period during one of the previous three years.

According to these parameters, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate would have needed to reach 11.4 percent to stay in the program.

The state triggered off the program when its unemployment rate between March 2012 and May 2012 averaged 11.1 percent.

Massachusetts triggered off of the program in April and Connecticut triggered off in May. After July 7, 2012, Idaho will be the only state to remain on a state extended benefits program.

With an unemployment rate of 11 percent, Rhode Island has the second highest jobless rate in the country, behind Nevada at 11.6 percent.

Beginning Monday, the state will adhere to a three-week transition period, during which time benefit claimants enrolled in the state extending benefits program will receive benefits.

All state extended benefits will stop the week ending July 7.

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