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Idaho, Washington cut duration of jobless benefits

Washington and Idaho are shortening the length of time out-of-work residents can receive long-term unemployment benefits funded by the federal government.

In Washington, unemployed workers will be cut off after 47 weeks of emergency compensation, the state said Tuesday. The new limits take effect April 21. Including 26 weeks of regular state-funded benefits, unemployed workers will receive no more than 73 weeks of total benefits, down from 99 weeks.

Officials with the state Employment Security Department said the decrease was triggered when the statewide unemployment rate dropped to 8.2 percent in February.

As a result, an estimated 12,500 Washington residents who are out of work will lose their benefits after April 21, Employment Security officials estimate. More than 11,000 others will exhaust their benefits within eight weeks of that date, and another 40,000 people on unemployment are at risk of being dropped from the program in the final half of the year.

Idaho workers now are limited to a maximum of 44 weeks of extended unemployment compensation, a reduction of 29 weeks, after they exhaust their 26 weeks of state-funded benefits, the Idaho Department of Labor said. That change took effect Feb. 26.

Idaho’s jobless rate in February was 8 percent, the lowest since September 2009.

About 300 unemployment insurance claimants in Idaho move from regular state benefits to federally financed extended benefits each week, labor officials said.