Assembly Passes Legislation to Extend Unemployment Benefits

May 20, 2009

Albany – Assemblymembers Ellen Jaffee and Kenneth Zebrowski announced passage of legislation allowing the state to receive a one-time federal grant of $645 million for unemployment compensation. The legislation (A.8273) would allow a 13-week extension to those currently receiving unemployment benefits. Assemblywoman Jaffee was a co-sponsor of the bill.

“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,” Assemblywoman Jaffee 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 are unemployed through no fault of their own. 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.

“This package of legislation will provide New Yorkers with sufficient unemployment benefits so that people can provide for their families during this tough time,” Assemblyman Zebrowski said. “The money spent on unemployment benefits also has a positive return into the economy. For every $1 spent on unemployment, $1.68 is put back into the economy because the recipients are spending these funds on necessary items at local businesses.”

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

  • extends benefits for an additional 13 weeks, for a total of 72 weeks of benefits;
  • 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);
  • 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; and
  • provides that part-time workers can seek part-time work to qualify for benefits.

The legislation has also passed in the Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.