Because Idaho and Washington have had jobless rates higher than 8.5 percent over the past three months, the unemployed in both states could qualify for six weeks of federal unemployment benefits in addition to the 14 weeks allotted to all states under a bill passed Wednesday by the Senate.
As of the end of September, Washington’s unemployment was 9.3 percent, and Idaho’s unemployment rate stood at 8.8 percent.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., has been calling for an extension of benefits for weeks. “We cannot sit by as working families are pushed to the brink by a financial crisis they didn’t create, but are still paying for,” she said last week.
More than 5,000 Washington residents have exhausted their benefits this year. Without the extension, the state’s Employment Security Department estimated 19,000 would have exhausted their benefits by year’s end.
More than 2,000 Idahoans have exhausted their unemployment benefits this year. The Idaho Department of Labor expects that number would have risen to about 4,000 by the end of the year without the extension.