2009-05-29 / Top Stories

Unemployment Benefits Extended

Governor David A. Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced on Wednesday the enactment of critical legislation that will extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for more than 120,000 New Yorkers, including approximately 56,000 individuals whose benefits were set to expire next week. The legislation allows New York to access an estimated $645 million in additional federal aid available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which will contribute to the State unemployment system and provide an additional 13 weeks of UI benefits.

This legislation will ensure that New York can tap into additional ARRA funds. Individuals become eligible for federal funds to cover an extended 13 weeks of unemployment when one of two statewide benchmarks has been reached: the "Insured Unemployment Rate" (IUR) or the "Total Unemployment Rate" (TUR). The IUR is calculated by dividing the average number of workers receiving state unemployment benefits in the past 13 weeks by the total number of employed workers in the state. The TUR is calculated by dividing the overall number of unemployed workers by the total civilian labor force in the state. If the TUR exceeds 6.5 percent over a threemonth period, the extended UI benefits are triggered.

Prior to this legislation, New York State only used the IUR and will unlikely meet that threshold this year. The law enacted today allows New York State to use the TUR, which has already been met, in cases where benefits are fully federally funded. Without today's action, New York's UI recipients would miss out on millions of dollars of federal aid.

In addition to the millions in ARRA funds that this bill enables New York to access, these enactments ensure that New York meets the conditions for $275 million in additional federal UI modernization aid, which will be used to support benefit payments and will help to address a shortfall in New York's UI Trust Fund.

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