U.S. senators introduce bill seeking changes to unemployment insurance program

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-), U.S. Senator Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), and U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-Va.) and a coalition of six Democratic and Independent senators on October 26 introduced a bill proposing several modifications to the joint federal-state unemployment insurance program.

The act, among other provisions, proposes the following program changes:

  1. Provide additional weeks of benefits when the federal unemployment rate is above 6.5%
  2. Increase federal financing of extended unemployment insurance benefits from 50% to 100%
  3. Require states to provide at least 26 weeks of benefits
  4. Require weekly benefit amounts to replace 75% of the claimant’s average weekly earnings in the claimant’s highest quarter of earnings during the base period, subject to the state’s maximum benefit amount
  5. Require the state maximum benefit amount to be greater than or equal to two-thirds of the state’s average weekly wage
  6. Create a federally funded Jobseeker Allowance of $250 per week to assist those who do not qualify for traditional unemployment insurance benefits.

Unemployment insurance is a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

For information about unemployment insurance programs across the country, click here.

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