West Virginia lawmakers pass bill to maintain weekly unemployment insurance benefit amounts and change taxable wage bases

The West Virginia House passed an amended version of Senate Bill 841 on Mar. 9, which changed the wage base on which employers pay state unemployment insurance taxes to the first $9,500 of employees’ wages. It also kept the maximum weekly benefit amount for workers at $662. The West Virginia Senate concurred with the changes to the bill on Mar. 9 and sent the bill on Mar. 19 to Governor Jim Justice (R) for approval.

The West Virginia Senate passed a different version of the bill on Feb. 28, which proposed reducing the duration of unemployment benefits from 26 to 24 weeks and reducing the unemployment benefit amounts by 5% every four weeks a worker claimed benefits. The introduced version also would have reduced the maximum weekly unemployment insurance benefit from 66.3% to 55% of the state’s average weekly wage, not to exceed $550. These provisions were not included in the final bill sent to the governor. 

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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