Federal Unemployment Insurance Renewed for 2013

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Just one hour before midnight on New Year’s Day, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a one-year renewal of federally-funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) as part of a year-end tax compromise which had passed the Senate some twenty hours earlier, and President Obama signed the measure yesterday.

The reauthorization maintains the EUC program through December 31, 2013 as it was structured during the last four months of 2012. It neither adds nor reduces the maximum weeks of available EUC benefits for which states qualify depending on their three-month average unemployment rates.

As the table below illustrates, federal EUC benefits become available to eligible unemployed workers actively looking for work after their maximum regular state unemployment benefits run out.  EUC Tier 1, offered in all states, provides up to 14 weeks of additional benefits.  Tier 2 provides up to 14 additional weeks of benefits in states with 3-month average unemployment rates of at least 6 percent.  Tier 3 provides up to 9 additional weeks in states with unemployment rates of at least 7 percent.  And those states with unemployment rates of 9 percent or higher offer up to 10 more weeks in EUC Tier 4.

Maximum weeks of unemployment insurance benefits 2013

After many weeks of anxious waiting to see if Congress would enact a jobless aid extension -- or if 2 million unemployed job-seekers would have their benefits end abruptly, with millions more losing access to federal unemployment insurance if Congress had failed to act – the EUC renewal for 2013 came as a relief to millions of workers, both employed and unemployed.

Because the EUC program was renewed after the start of the benefit week beginning December 30, 2012, all states were temporarily triggered “off” all EUC Tiers for that week.  But weekly claims (or “certifications” as they are known in some states) can and should be filed by eligible unemployed workers for that week, so that states can make payments for that week, even if retroactively.

"America’s unemployed workers have reason to celebrate Congress’s bi-partisan approval of the fiscal cliff compromise that extends the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program through 2013," said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) in a statement yesterday.  "The deal preserves a vital lifeline of support for two million long-term unemployed workers who faced an abrupt cut-off of all jobless aid this week, and for millions more who will run out of state unemployment insurance during 2013. Congress rightly treated the extension of unemployment insurance as an emergency measure, not requiring its cost to be offset."

"Building and maintaining this program would not have been possible without strong leadership in the Senate and House, especially by Senator Jack Reed and Representative Sander Levin, and the unwavering commitment of President Obama since day one of his presidency. We commend the President and congressional leaders for their dedication to preserving this crucial program. Moreover, thousands of unemployed Americans fought to maintain the program—even when it no longer served them—as an essential safeguard against poverty and a gateway to re-employment for the jobless. Through their voices and personal stories, they helped ensure that the unemployed would not be forgotten or left behind at year’s end."

"With unemployment insurance preserved through 2013, Congress and the President must now work together on meaningful job-creation measures. Despite modest growth over the last two years, the nation still faces a deep deficit of about nine million jobs. Creating more good jobs is one of the greatest challenges we face and is the most important step our nation’s leaders can take to help unemployed workers."

Here at UnemployedWorkers.org we are proud of the many thousands of workers and advocates across the country who participated in the campaign to renew the federal benefits, and grateful that so many sent emails and made phone calls to Congress.  We're especially thankful to all of those who have written in through our story submission pages, particularly those who offered to speak to reporters, and to those whose stories appeared in our blog posts.

When the "conventional wisdom" held that the odds were against us, and that the federal benefits would be allowed to end, your voices and actions helped to shift the odds and, ultimately, to prevail.  Now, together, we can focus on strengthening the recovery, creating good jobs, improving reemployment services for all those out-of-work including those who have exhausted benefits, and work to overcome the discriminatory barriers to employment facing too many unemployed job-seekers.

 

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