Long-term unemployment benefits go as economy improves

9:32 am August 9th, 2013

Washington’s improving economy will force the state to give up nine weeks of long-term unemployment benefits, according to the Employment Security Department. The change will start taking effect Aug. 11.

Currently in Washington, jobless workers can claim up to 63 weeks of unemployment benefits, including 26 weeks of regular, state-paid benefits and 37 weeks of federally funded emergency unemployment compensation (EUC).

Nationwide, EUC is paid in a series of four tiers, with tiers 2 through 4 tied to a state’s three-month average unemployment rate. Washington triggered off tier 4 in April 2012 after the three-month average dropped below 9 percent.

After the June 2013 unemployment rate was factored in, the three-month average dropped below 7 percent, which is the threshold for EUC tier 3. Last week, the federal Department of Labor directed Washington’s Employment Security Department to begin phasing out tier 3 on Aug. 11.

“Emergency unemployment compensation played a vital role in helping families and local economies survive the recession,” said state Employment Security Commissioner Dale Peinecke. “Ramping down the program is hard for workers who are still struggling to find jobs, but it’s a positive sign that the economy is recovering.”

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