Madden/Beach Bill To Help Extend Unemployment Benefits Clears Senate

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

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 Senate.

“Changing the trigger for unemployment benefits will help those who have fallen on hard times continue to provide a home, food, and other essentials for their families. While more certainly needs to be done to create jobs and economic growth, this measure is a good step forward in aiding the unemployed,” said Madden.

“Far too many individuals have been held hostage by unemployment here in New Jersey. They are desperately trying to find work, but the state of the economy has prevented them from landing a job for some time. By extending the trigger, we will continue to provide vital benefits to those who have been out of work the longest,” 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, which passed 40-0, now heads to the Assembly.

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