(KCPW News) The Utah Department of Workforce Services has notified about 3,000 unemployed Utahns they could be eligible for federal emergency unemployment benefits, under the extension just passed by Congress. Unemployment Insurance Director Bill Starks says Utahns who’ve exhausted their state unemployment benefits or one of their “tiers” of emergency unemployment compensation will now be eligible for additional benefits.
“What that does is, it gives them up to an additional 47 weeks of emergency unemployment benefits on top of the 26 weeks of state benefits and those are issued in three different tiers,” he says.
To top that off, the federal government also offers an additional 13 weeks of benefits through the Extended Benefits program. But Starks notes that under state statute, Utah can only receive those extra benefits if more than 5 percent of employable Utahns receive unemployment insurance.
Currently, Starks says the insured unemployment rate is just more than 2 percent. However, the state could enact legislation to trigger those benefits based on the total unemployment rate.
“These are being funded by general revenues so those costs would be passed on to all taxpayers,” explained Starks. “But on the other hand, it would provide for some additional benefits to unemployed Utahns that had exhausted all of their regular and emergency unemployment compensation.”
Starks says DWS and legislators are set to discuss the possibility of adding that trigger to state law in the coming weeks. The emergency unemployment compensation extension runs through January 2012.