News Column

States Continue to Cut Unemployment Benefits

Feb. 15, 2013

Marcia Heroux Pounds, Sun Sentinel

empty pockets

More states are chopping unemployment benefits, from the number of weeks to the weekly benefit.

On Thursday, lawmakers in North Carolina passed legislation that would slash the number of weeks the unemployed would receive to 20 from 26. The bill also would reduce the maximum weekly benefit from $535 to $350.

If signed by the governor, North Carolina would be the eighth state to trim jobless benefits as states shore up trust funds emptied by job cuts during the recession.

Florida, which has only a $275 maximum weekly benefit, cut its jobless aid in 2011 to a range of 12 weeks to 23 weeks, on a sliding scale with the unemployment rate. This year, the maximum state benefits are 19 weeks.

But Florida's reduction resulted in fewer total benefits: 46 weeks from 63 weeks, reducing income by nearly $3,900, according to The National Employment Law Project, an advocate for the unemployed.

That leaves families less able to meet mortgage payments and purchase goods and services from local businesses, NELP says.

Six other states -- Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina -- have trimmed their benefits to 25 weeks or fewer, according to NELP.

Source: (c)2013 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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