The state of Indiana added another 1,700 jobs last month, but Department of Workforce Development spokesman Joe Frank said that improvement means those who have been out of work the longest will lose some of their unemployment benefits.
“Right now, as we stand, unemployed Hoosiers can get up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. With Tier 4 phasing out, they’ll still be able to get 93 weeks if they’re eligible.”
When Congress extended unemployment eligibility from the usual 55 weeks to 99, it made an exception: If a state’s jobless rate remained below 8.5% for three straight months, the cutoff would be dialed back to 73 weeks. Indiana passed that period in March, but as of June it has been at 8.2% for two straight months. Unemployed Hoosiers can get an additional 20 weeks of state benefits, but the standards are stricter.
Frank said if the jobless rate drops to 8%, the state will be able to offer only 13 extra weeks’ unemployment benefits. But the 86 weeks Hoosiers will receive if the jobless rate increases again is far more than the historical norm: “Even during the heights of the recession back in the early ’80s, the maximum number of weeks that were offered back in 1983 were 55. Currently, the federal extended unemployment benefit program we’re on right now is absolutely unprecedented.”
27 states, including Indiana, have seen their jobs picture stabilize enough to eliminate the 99-week standard. Of those, only Indiana and Louisiana are still above 8% unemployment. The national jobless rate is 9.1%.