Albany Extends Unemployment Benefits and Expands Coverage for New Yorkers Who Have Lost Jobs

May 20, 2009
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced the passage of legislation that will allow the state to receive a one-time federal grant of $645 million for unemployment compensation. The legislation (A.8273) would allow unemployment compensation recipients to receive a 13-week extension on their benefits.

“New York has been hit especially hard by job loss. Workers from Wall Street to Main Street are losing their jobs at an unprecedented rate,” Jacobs said. “This federal stimulus money will help the state cover current benefit claims – vitally important because there are many New Yorkers filing claims for the first time.”

Unemployment insurance benefits are currently provided for 26 weeks to employees who are ready, willing and able to work but who have lost their employment through no fault of their own, said Jacobs. In 2008 and February 2009, the federal government provided an additional 33 weeks of benefits, for which they paid 100 percent of the cost, for a total of 59 weeks of benefits for New York State claimants. There are 56,000 jobless New Yorkers whose unemployment benefits will run out next week without this legislation, with at least 5,000 more a week after that.

The Assembly’s legislation uses federal stimulus funds to further help unemployed New Yorkers and:

  • ensures that workers who must leave work for certain family reasons, including domestic abuse and the sickness or disability of a family member, may collect unemployment insurance benefits;
  • provides that part-time workers can seek part-time work to qualify for benefits;
  • extends benefits for an additional 13 weeks, for a total of 72 weeks of benefits; and
  • extends benefits an additional 7 weeks when the state has a total unemployment rate of 8 percent or greater – for a maximum of 79 weeks.

As of April 2009, the New York State unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.

“Unemployed individuals who have exhausted all regular and emergency unemployment benefits will be able to receive retroactive payment for weeks covered by this legislation. There are still many New Yorkers struggling to find jobs in this staggering economy – we must do all we can to help support them,” concluded Jacobs.