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Tuesday, November 28, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesGovernor Joins Push for Extending Unemployment Benefits

Governor Joins Push for Extending Unemployment Benefits

Although the federal government has already extended unemployment insurance three times, Gov. John deJongh Jr. and 21 of his fellow governors are calling on the U.S. Congress to further extend benefits given the nation’s economic crisis.
"Given the severity and length of the economic crisis, unless Congress acts, we expect that more than 400,000 workers nationwide will exhaust their federal extended benefits by September, with exhaustion rates expected to increase over the coming months,” the governor wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.
The letter was written to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Beohner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Labor Department spokesman Rona Martinez said Thursday about 2,600 people across the territory were collecting unemployment benefits. However, she said that a total of 4,352 people on all islands were unemployed.
"That’s a conservative number," she said.
The number is probably higher because workers have exhausted their benefits and no longer visit the unemployment office.
Statistics compiled by the Labor Department show that the territory’s exhaustion rate of unemployment insurance is about 60 percent, the second highest in the nation. Martinez said that this means that about 60 percent of those who receive unemployment insurance will use all of their benefits as compared to only 35 percent in 2007.
According to the press release, the largest single month for layoffs was October 2008. Those who received benefits then will soon exhaust their unemployment insurance funds. Labor statistics also show 50 percent fewer job postings this year compared to 2007 and approximately $30 million in unemployment insurance funds have been issued in the last year.
According to Martinez, unemployed workers are eligible for 26 weeks of unemployment paid for by the territory’s Unemployment Trust Fund. Subsequently, the federal government paid for the three extensions. The first one, of 13 weeks, was passed in June 2008. In November 2008 a seven-week extension went into effect. An extension of as much as 13 weeks began in August.
This means that unemployed people can collect a total of up to 59 weeks of unemployment.
DeJongh said in a press release issued Thursday that when the nation was faced with a faltering economy and swelling unemployment rolls, the administration and Congress acted quickly by extending emergency unemployment compensation, increasing unemployment benefits, providing full federal funding for extended unemployment compensation and offering assistance with temporary advances for state unemployment insurance trust funds.
"These policies have helped provide extended unemployment benefits for millions of workers affected by the recession, offered relief each month to struggling families across the country and have played a critical role in stabilizing the economy," he said.

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