The Senate and Assembly passed legislation today that would make an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits available to nearly 120,000 New Yorkers who are currently without jobs. Benefits for about 56,000 New Yorkers are set to expire beginning this week. Over the next two or three months, nearly 5,000 people will run out of benefits each week.
The state would not have to shell out money to fund the extension; the bill would let New York tap into a $645 million federal grant for unemployment compensation. Regular unemployment benefits run for 26 weeks. The federal government has added on an additional 33 weeks in the past six months because of the economy. This legislation would allow another extension.
The bill, which was delivered to Gov. David Paterson today, makes changes in state law that are needed for New Yorkers to fully access the federal benefits. Existing state law triggers an extension of benefits when the rate of unemployment among workers who qualify for benefits hits 5 percent. The new legislation would allow 13 more weeks of benefits when that rate reaches 6.5 percent. Unemployment was 7.8 percent in New York last month. The governor is expected to sign the legislation.
The bill would extend unemployment benefits to workers who have to leave their jobs for compelling family reasons, such as domestic violence and illness. It would allow part-time workers to look for part-time jobs and still qualify for unemployment insurance.