Unemployment bill speeds through Legislature


   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.


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  1. For the Record on

    While no one wants to debate whether or not the unemployed should receive a higher weekly rate during this recession, we need to look beyond. This bill will bring in federal stimulus dollars to “float” the next 2 years. Then once that money is gone, this increase will need to get covered by employers. This is just another example of Albany not understanding that their actions have consequences. On top of the new health insurance and energy increase, as well as the income tax hike,you are going to add this one. It’s a wonder that any businesses remain.
    The Governor said he wouldn’t pass any bills that have a fiscal impact on localities and businesses without a review and real understanding of the impact. Stand by your Executive Order #17 and veto this bill. It is too costly and won;t reform a system that is in need of repair.

  2. Correcting the Record on

    Actually, to clarify the above, this bill, while it does require a broadening of the eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance, does not automatically mean an increased burden on New York employers down the line. In fact, many labor advocates have pointed out that the provisions can be made to sunset (expire) at the point at which the federal government stops funding the program which means that in this instance, New York can get the additional stimulus money and still not be on the hook for additional costs in the future.

  3. AndrewReed59701 on

    Excellent point, Correcting.

    This is an important bill, and not only will it be funded from the federal gov, it will also (as Governor Paterson wisely points out) pump money directly back into NY’s economy.