PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Department of Labor and Training said last week the state has again qualified for the fourth tier of the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program due to the recent uptick in its unemployment rate.
The EUC program provides up to 47 weeks of federally funded unemployment insurance benefits to the long-term unemployed who have exhausted their regular unemployment-insurance benefits. The program offers from one to four tiers of benefits to states, depending on the level of unemployment. A state may qualify for the fourth and final tier of EUC when its three-month moving average unemployment rate reaches or exceeds 9 percent.
Rhode Island’s unemployment rate remained the highest in New England in September and October, rising to a seasonally adjusted 9.2 percent from 9.1 percent in August, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month. Approximately 1,500 Rhode Island claimants who had exhausted their third tier after Aug. 9 may now be eligible for the fourth tier of benefits, if they are available for work and actively seeking full-time employment.
To collect on the fourth tier of benefits, eligible claimants must reopen their EUC claims no earlier than Dec. 8, 2013. The R.I. Department of Labor and Training is notifying those claimants by mail of their potential eligibility.
However, the department said, all tiers of the EUC program are scheduled to end after Dec. 28. As a result, those qualifying for the fourth tier of benefits may not be able to collect the maximum weeks associated with that tier before the program ends. •