Bill Would Change Trigger For Extending Unemployment Benefits
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Fred Madden (D-Gloucester, Camden) and Jim Beach (D-Camden) that would help extend unemployment benefits for jobless residents was approved today by the full Assembly.
“During these difficult economic times, we must take action to ensure that those hardest hit will still be able to provide a home, food and other essentials for their families. Changing the unemployment benefits trigger will help do that. We will certainly look towards other measures to create jobs and economic growth, but this is a good step towards helping those who need it,” said Madden.
“We all know individuals who are desperately seeking to find employment but keep getting stopped due to the state of the economy. Extending the trigger will continue to provide those who have been out of work the longest with vital benefits that can help sustain them and their families,” said Beach.
The bill, S-2680, would broaden the trigger that allows New Jersey to provide extended unemployment benefits. The legislation implements an option provided by the federal “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010”. Prior to the enactment of that legislation, the federal government prohibited any broadening of a state’s extended benefits criteria.
Under the current law, extended benefits become effective if the total unemployment rate in the state for the most recent three-month period for which data is available: equals or exceeds 110% of the average unemployment rate in the State during either or both of the corresponding three-month periods ending in the two preceding calendar years; and equals or exceeds 6.5 percent, in which case 13 weeks of extended benefits will be provided, or equals or exceeds 8 percent, in which case 20 weeks of extended benefits will be provided.
The bill would broaden the first trigger to account for the unemployment rate for the preceding three years as opposed to the preceding two. By broadening the 110 percent trigger, New Jersey would be able to continue providing extended benefits, because the unemployment rate in 2008 was between 4.2 and 6.0 percent. The continued payment extended benefits would not result an increased cost to the State’s Unemployment Insurance Fund, because the federal act provides for full federal funding of extended benefits through December 31, 2011.
The legislation now moves to the Governor’s desk.