The automatic budget cuts that took effect March 1 are forcing a 10.7 percent reduction in extended unemployment benefits for thousands of idled Idaho workers at least through September, the Idaho Department of Labor reported Thursday.
Earlier this month the Idaho Department of Labor notified more than 6,000 extended benefit claimants that their benefit payments and remaining extension balance will both be reduced by 10.7 percent. Weekly extended benefit payment reductions will begin with the payment for the week of March 31 and run through the week of Sept. 22.
Regular state benefits of 10 to 26 weeks for more than 17,000 jobless workers are not affected by the reductions, but claimants moving from regular state benefits to extended benefits through September will see the reductions. About 200 people a week exhaust their regular benefits without finding new jobs and move to the extended benefit program. The federal budget debates impact on claimants is yet to be determined for people who begin to receive extended benefits starting in October, the start of the new federal budget year. Current extended benefit claimants will receive a letter with the exact amount their weekly benefits will be reduced and the revised balances in their extension accounts. Since the programs inception in 2008, nearly 100,000 Idaho workers have shared more than $900 million in federally financed extended benefits. And since most benefit checks are spent locally on rent, utilities, food, clothes for the family and other necessities, Moodys Economy.com estimates that every dollar paid in extended unemployment benefits generates $1.61 in local economic activity. To learn more about the current status of extended benefits go to labor.idaho.gov/extendedbenefits.