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6,300+ jobless Idahoans get reprieve, under fiscal cliff legislation

More than 6,300 unemployed Idahoans won’t lose their federal extended unemployment benefits this week after all, the Idaho Department of Labor says, under the newly passed legislation to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. Instead, those on extended benefits will continue to receive them, though possibly not for long. Due to drops in Idaho’s unemployment rate, the length of federal extended benefits has been cut back three times in 2012; it’s now at a maximum of 37 weeks beyond the standard state benefit of 10 to 26 weeks; that could drop to a maximum of 28 weeks the second week of February, if unemployment holds steady or continues to fall. At their peak, federal extended benefits lasted for up to 73 weeks. Click below for the full announcement from the Idaho Department of Labor.


NEWS RELEASE - Idaho Department of Labor

For Immediate Release: Jan. 2, 2013

Congressional Vote Authorizes Continued Extended Jobless Benefits in Idaho

Congress has voted to maintain federal extended unemployment benefits through 2013, continuing payments to more than 6,000 jobless Idaho workers that would otherwise have ceased this week.

The U.S. Department of Labor advised states on Wednesday that the extended benefit program would continue under the same eligibility requirements that existed in 2012. Claimants with questions should go online at labor.idaho.govrather than contact a local office by telephone.

But even with congressional continuation of the extension program, Idaho’s plummeting unemployment will likely reduce the maximum number of additional weeks of benefits for Idaho workers from 37 to 28 in early February.

Regular state benefits of 10 to 26 weeks continue for over 15,000 workers who have yet to find new jobs, and all people looking for work should contact the department’s local offices for free assistance.

“Competition for jobs is still high, and Department of Labor consultants at the 25 local offices can help workers improve their résumés and hone their interview skills, provide tips on using social media and determine eligibility for training and education programs,” Deputy Idaho Department of Labor Director John McAllister said.

Since the program began, 95,000 Idaho workers have shared $900 million in federally financed extended benefits. Moody’s Economy.com estimates that every dollar paid in extended unemployment benefits generates $1.61 in economic activity because benefit checks are immediately spent locally on rent, utilities, food, clothes for the family and other necessities.

About $1.3 billion has been paid in regular state benefits since the beginning of 2008, a month after the recession began.

At their peak, extended benefits added a maximum of 27 to 73 weeks of payments to the 10 to 26 weeks provided under the traditional state benefit program. As Idaho’s jobless rate has declined, the extension has been trimmed back three times in 2012 to a maximum 14 to 37 weeks of additional benefits. Should the state unemployment rate for November remain at or only slightly above November’s 6.8 percent, the maximum additional benefits will drop to 10 to 28 weeks beginning the second week of February.

More information on job search assistance is available at http://labor.idaho.gov/dnn/idl/JobSeekers.aspx


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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