Extended unemployment payments, which once stretched up to 99 weeks at the height of the recession, are being curtailed again as Idaho's economy improves.
Six weeks of extended benefits have already ended. Another seven weeks are ending this week, bringing the maximum possible time someone can receive jobless benefits down to 86 weeks. The Idaho Department of Labor says several hundred Idahoans will be affected immediately, whether they've used all of those seven weeks or not.
The basic Idaho unemployment benefit program, in place since before the recession began, pays jobless workers for 10 to 26 weeks. For most of the past three years, jobless Idahoans who had exhausted their state benefits could receive up to 73 weeks of additional pay, mostly at federal taxpayer expense.
By September, another 47 weeks of extended benefits are expected to be cut if the unemployment rate continues to drop. Unless Congress changes the law, all of the remaining supplemental benefits will end nationwide by Dec. 31, leaving Idaho only with its basic employer-funded program.
The latest cut comes because the state's average unemployment rate for the past three months was below 8 percent, the Department of Labor said. The April rate was 7.7 percent.
About 12,000 Idaho workers are receiving regular state benefits. Another 10,000 are receiving extended unemployment pay. That compares with nearly 16,000 on regular benefits and another 16,000 on extended benefits a year ago.
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