Unemployment System – Ohio

No fix this year for troubled unemployment system, By Jessie Balmert, December 7, 2016, Cincinnati Enquirer: “Ohio lawmakers won’t overhaul the state’s troubled unemployment system – at least not until April, they say.  After days of furious negotiating, lawmakers, business and union leaders came up short of a comprehensive fix that would please both the people who receive unemployment benefits and the employers who pay for them. Instead, lawmakers said Tuesday, they plan to freeze unemployment benefits for 2018 and 2019. Employers currently pay taxes on their employees’ annual wages up to $9,000, and lawmakers plan to increase that to $9,500. The national average is $13,407…”

US Unemployment Claims

U.S. unemployment claims at lowest level since 1973, October 13, 2016, Denver Post: “The number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits held at a four-decade low last week, a sign employers are holding on to workers as the labor market tightens.  Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, were unchanged at 246,000 in the week ended Oct. 8, the Labor Department said Thursday. The latest two weeks registered at the lowest level since November 1973…”

Unemployment Benefits – North Carolina

$2 billion in trust for jobless benefits. Is it time to increase unemployment checks?, By Richard Craver, October 6, 2016, Winston-Salem Journal: “North Carolina has more than $2 billion in its trust fund to pay unemployment benefits, a level close to what federal guidelines suggest for reserves.  State Division of Employment Security officials told legislators Wednesday the amount should be enough for the agency to handle the payout demands of the next recession without having to borrow again from the federal government.  However, some unemployment advocacy groups say the trust fund should be doubled to at least $4.2 billion before state officials should be secure with the amount…”

Unemployment Benefits – Illinois

State: No unemployment benefits without posting resume, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, July 13, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “People filing for unemployment insurance in Illinois will no longer be able to receive benefits unless they post a resume to the state’s job search site.  The Illinois Department of Employment Security announced it is stepping up enforcement of an existing legal requirement that individuals actively seek employment to be eligible for unemployment benefits…”

Unemployment Insurance – North Carolina

North Carolina ranks among top-five worst states for the jobless, By Richard Craver, June 20, 2016, Winston Salem-Journal: “North Carolina’s inclusion among the five worst states for unemployment insurance beneficiaries may be a source of shame or pride, depending on the value placed upon the drastic cuts that went into effect in July 2013. The state was ranked 46th by research firm 24/7 Wall St. in a report released June 11. Louisiana is listed as the worst state, followed by Alabama, Mississippi and Alaska. In a report released Thursday, North Carolina ranked 49th in terms of what percentage of UI applicants receive benefits at 12.4 percent for 2015. That study comes from the Center for American Progress, Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, and National Employment Law Project…”

State Unemployment Benefits

States reduce jobless checks, adding pressure to unemployed, Associated Press, February 29, 2016, CNBC: “When Demetrius White recently lost his job as a $10-an-hour forklift driver loading pallets of shampoo, he applied for unemployment benefits to help support his family. That aid will not last as long as it once did, because White is among the first group of people affected by a new Missouri law reducing the duration of jobless benefits. His $200-a-week checks will last no more than three months – just half as long as what has typically been available…”

Jobless Benefits – Pennsylvania

Changed rules for jobless pay exclude some workers, By Daniel Moore, February 2, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Amid the sharp downturn in the steel industry and the closure of several power plants in southwestern Pennsylvania, work has been steadily disappearing for Keith Evans. The 53-year-old boilermaker from Brookline is called on intermittently for jobs related to maintenance at industrial facilities.  But the state won’t let him collect unemployment compensation as he scours for jobs. Thousands of seasonal workers were ruled ineligible to receive jobless pay under cost-cutting measures put into effect in January 2013 under former Gov. Tom Corbett.  Although the intention wasn’t to exclude such workers, efforts in Harrisburg to bring some of them back into the fold haven’t worked yet…”

Safety Net Programs – Pennsylvania, Kansas, Missouri

  • Three-month time limit on food stamps to affect many in Allegheny County, By Kate Giammarise, January 4, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “A three-month time limit on food stamps for unemployed or underemployed adults ages 18 to 50 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children will apply to most of Allegheny County and southwestern Pennsylvania in 2016, according to a recent federal decision. The change is due to a requirement in the 1996 welfare overhaul law that hasn’t been in effect for many years because of high unemployment rates during the recession. As unemployment rates continue to fall, some parts of Pennsylvania will be subject to the rule this year, though areas with more persistent high unemployment are exempt…”
  • Gov. Sam Brownback announces mentoring program for welfare recipients, By Bryan Lowry, January 6, 2016, Wichita Eagle: “Gov. Sam Brownback unveiled a mentoring program for welfare recipients Wednesday, a program he hopes will help lift low-income families out of poverty.  The program aims to reduce the amount of time participants rely on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, more commonly known as welfare, by pairing them with community volunteers and helping them pursue education and employment. It is based on a similar program used by the Kansas Department of Corrections to curb recidivism…”
  • Missouri’s social safety net shrinking with new laws, Associated Press, January 1, 2016, Kansas City Star: “Missouri’s social safety net will shrink in January as new laws force an end to welfare payments for some families and reduce how long the unemployed can receive benefits to one of the shortest periods nationally…”

Unemployment Benefits – Missouri

Fight brewing over Missouri cutting jobless benefits, By Jason Hancock, October 4, 2015, Kansas City Star: “It took six years for Missouri’s unemployment rate to return to pre-recession levels, finally dropping below 6 percent last summer. It has remained there ever since. Under a bill passed recently by lawmakers over the objections of the governor, a jobless rate that low will mean a dramatic reduction in how long out-of-work Missourians can receive unemployment benefits. The new law is supposed to go into effect in January. Whether it will isn’t clear. Legal wrangling may delay or even completely derail its implementation…”

Unemployment Benefits – Florida

Florida’s unemployment benefits ‘virtually inaccessible,’ study finds, By Marcia Heroux Pounds, September 22, 2015, Sun Sentinel: “Fewer than one in eight unemployed workers in Florida receives jobless benefits, the result of a burdensome system that is “virtually inaccessible” for the average person out of work, a new report concludes. Florida, more than nearly any other state, has made it more difficult for laid-off workers to apply and qualify for unemployment benefits, the National Employment Law Project, an advocate for the unemployed, said in a report Tuesday…”

Unemployment Benefits – Missouri

Missouri lawmakers cut jobless benefits, limit minimum wages, By David A. Lieb, September 17, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature put a conservative stamp on state employment laws Wednesday, voting to cut unemployment benefits to one of the shortest periods nationally while also outlawing local minimum wage increases…”

State Jobless Benefit Requirements

  • N.C. House OKs tougher requirement for jobless benefits, By Richard Craver, August 19, 2015, Winston-Salem Journal: “The N.C. House approved changes Thursday to the state’s unemployment insurance benefits law that raise the number of required weekly job search contacts from two to five. Senate Bill 15, approved 83-27 on third vote, goes to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature. The changes would take effect Jan. 1.  The bill requires that people who receive unemployment benefits keep a record of their contacts, which can include online applications, and provide it to N.C. Division of Employment Security officials upon request…”
  • Worker advocates: New rule is Scott Walker’s latest effort to make unemployment benefits harder to collect, By Pat Schneider, August 21, 2015, Capital Times: “Patrick Hickey says that an additional filing requirement to collect unemployment compensation will lead to late checks and lost benefits, and that imposing it is part of how Gov. Scott Walker is curtailing assistance to state residents. ‘This is part and parcel of the administration’s goal to stigmatize poverty and shame poor people by making the system so cumbersome and humiliating that people give up,’ said Hickey, a member of the Workers’ Rights Center in Madison. The new rule will require workers making weekly unemployment benefits claims by phone to begin faxing or mailing in a log of their weekly job search efforts, according to a notice on the state Department of Workforce Development web site…”

Unemployment Benefits – Nebraska

Stricter state benefits requirements may soon call for jobless to make 5 contacts a week with employers, By Paul Hammel, August 6, 2015, Omaha World-Herald: “The state’s plan to hasten the transition from unemployment to ‘re-employment’ is getting mixed reviews. Under proposed changes to the state’s ‘work search’ requirements, Nebraskans on unemployment would be required to make five contacts a week with potential employers, up from the current two a week. If they remain on unemployment, such workers would have to eventually increase the number of days devoted to searching for a new job from one day a week to three or four days a week…”

Unemployment Insurance Debt – South Carolina

South Carolina pays off $1B unemployment debt to federal government, By Seanna Adcox (AP), June 11, 2015, Post and Courier: “South Carolina’s unemployment agency has paid off its nearly $1 billion debt to the federal government, five months ahead of schedule. Gov. Nikki Haley announced that the Department of Employment and Workforce made a final payment Thursday of $120 million. Early payments over the past four years have collectively saved businesses nearly $13 million in interest, while also reducing their insurance taxes…”

Unemployment Insurance Benefits – Michigan

Report: State’s unemployment cuts cost up to $6,118 per person, By Maureen Groppe, June 2, 2015, Lansing State Journal: “Michiganders who are out of work more than 20 weeks could lose as much as $6,118 in unemployment insurance benefits because of program cuts the state made four years ago, according to a federal report. Michigan was the first state in 2011 to reduce the maximum time the unemployed could receive state-funded benefits. Eight other states followed suit…”

Welfare Reform – Missouri

After his welfare limits veto is overridden, Nixon vetoes unemployment changes, By Jason Hancock, May 5, 2015, Kansas City Star: “Lawmakers voted Tuesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would cut thousands of low-income Missourians off of a federal welfare program.  Meantime, Nixon vetoed a separate bill that would cut the amount of time a laid-off worker could collect jobless benefits to 13 weeks from 20 weeks. Republican leaders spoke confidently that they could override that veto, too…”

State Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds

Could states afford jobless benefits if another recession hits?, By Jake Grovum, April 22, 2015, Stateline: “Tens of billions of dollars in debt. Cuts to jobless aid that have been called ‘historic and disturbing.’ Unemployment insurance trust funds that are still clawing their way back to solvency.  This is the Great Recession’s legacy for the nation’s unemployment safety net. The sustained downturn and spike in joblessness stressed state programs to an extent not seen in decades, requiring emergency federal aid. Now, unemployment nationwide has fallen to 5.5 percent and the amount of unemployment benefits paid in the states has dropped to pre-recession norms in many cases. Federal jobless aid to extend benefits expired last year.  Yet many state unemployment insurance trust funds still face a deficit. Those that are in the black often have balances below pre-recession peaks. And many states are paying less in benefits. The result is a safety net significantly weaker than it was before the recession…”

Unemployment Benefits

Most of the unemployed don’t receive jobless benefits, NELP report says, By Olivera Perkins, February 4, 2015, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Only about 25 percent of unemployed workers received jobless benefits last year — a record low, according to a report by the National Employment Law Project. Contrast that with 2010, when 68 percent of workers received benefits, according to the report released Tuesday, which makes public policy recommendations often aimed at helping the long-term unemployed. People join the ranks of the long-term unemployed when they have been without work for at least six months. Just before the recession began in December 2007, 37 percent of the unemployed received benefits, the report said…”

State Welfare Programs – Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Michigan

  • Participation in ‘workfare’ fell sharply in Mass., study finds, By Megan Woolhouse, January 22, 2015, Boston Globe: “Massachusetts has the nation’s lowest participation of welfare recipients working to receive their benefits, undermining one of the key reforms that was intended to move people from public assistance to self-sufficiency, according to a study to be released Thursday by a conservative Beacon Hill think tank. Only 7.3 percent of people receiving welfare benefits in the state held jobs in fiscal 2011, the most recent year for which data were available, according to the Pioneer Institute. That’s roughly one-fourth the national average of about 30 percent…”
  • Walker budget to bar drug users from food stamps, Medicaid, By Jason Stein, January 22, 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With federal approval in doubt, Gov. Scott Walker is moving ahead with his campaign pledge to ensure that drug users aren’t getting public health care, food stamp or jobless benefits. As Walker explores a 2016 presidential bid, the proposal being included in the governor’s Feb. 3 budget bill will help him sell himself to GOP primary voters as a leader committed to overhauling the core programs of government. For the first time Thursday, Walker committed to drug testing recipients of BadgerCare Plus health coverage and also pledged free treatment and job training for those testing positive for drugs…”
  • Snyder’s welfare plan needs ‘mother of all waivers’, By Chad Livengood, January 22, 2015, Detroit News: “Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday the federal government may need to grant Michigan ‘the mother of all waivers’ for his administration to redesign some 145 different social services programs. Snyder’s ambitious ‘river of opportunity’ agenda that he unveiled Tuesday in his State of the State address may involve a complex untangling of a federally financed state bureaucracy for the governor to make government programs more ‘people centric’ instead of program-driven…”

US Unemployment

  • States focus on long-term unemployed, By Elaine S. Povich, November 18, 2014, Stateline: “Maybe it was Tony Stanley’s furrowed brow that was keeping him from getting a job. Or maybe it was his work history in many fields instead of just one. Or maybe it was that he was aiming too high, or maybe too low. The 50-year-old Norwalk resident has worked in a mental health center and as a security company employee, but has been unemployed for almost a year, nearly six months longer than what the federal government defines as ‘long-term unemployment.’ Imposing, athletic and impeccably dressed, Stanley picks up pocket change by refereeing high school basketball games, but he doesn’t have a full-time job. The overall unemployment picture has improved consistently since the end of the Great Recession, but the plight of the long-term jobless has proven difficult to address. With federal help, states are taking steps to help this population: In mid-October, the U.S. Department of Labor handed out about $170 million in grants to 23 agencies in 20 states for programs targeting the long-term unemployed…”
  • Unemployment rates fall in two-thirds of US states, By Christopher S. Rugaber (AP), November 21, 2014, ABC News: “Unemployment rates fell in 34 U.S. states in October, a sign that steady hiring this year has been broadly dispersed through most of the country. The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates rose in just 5 states, the fewest since April. Rates were unchanged in 11 states. Steady economic growth has prompted more companies to add jobs, though the additional hiring hasn’t yet boosted wages. Nationwide, employers added 214,000 jobs in October, the ninth straight month of gains above 200,000. That’s the longest such stretch since 1995. The U.S. unemployment rate stood at 5.8 percent, a six-year low…”
  • Most US unemployed don’t get benefits: Here’s why, By Christopher S. Rugaber (AP), November 21, 2014, Sacramento Bee: “Even though the U.S. job market is gaining strength, there are still a lot of unemployed Americans. Yet only a fraction of them are receiving financial aid from the government. Fewer than 25 percent of those out of work are signed up for weekly unemployment benefits, a near-record low since the government began tracking this data in 1987. That’s a sharp turnaround from just after the recession, when as many as three-quarters of those out of work received help, a record high…”