February 24, 2000             No: 00-37

Contact: Chuck_Blankenship        Phone:  907.465.5930

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Unemployed to Get Extended Benefits

Unemployment benefits for eligible, unemployed workers in Alaska will be extended the week ending March 4, 2000, because of a federal formula that determines whether or not a state can pay up to 13 additional weeks of unemployment insurance to those who qualify.

According to Ed Flanagan, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Alaska's insured unemployment rate just recently reached 6 percent. The federal government determines that extended benefits can be paid when a state's unemployment rate rises to this level. Alaska and the federal government equally share the cost of extended benefits. Typically, eligible unemployed workers in Alaska can receive up to 26 weeks of cash benefits. When this special formula applies, however, those who qualify and have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits can get up to an additional 13 weeks of payments.

The Employment Security Division is notifying unemployed workers that the first payable week ending date is March 4, 2000. People who have a benefit claim year ending February 27, 2000, or later and are not eligible for other unemployment benefits may be eligible for extended benefits.

"Unemployment insurance benefits are cycled back into communities where people are temporarily out of work, helping to promote economic stability in the state," Flanagan said. Historically, the state pays extended benefits during the winter months and suspends them during the summer months when more work is available. In 1999, Alaska paid approximately $129 million in unemployment insurance benefits, including $7 million in extended payments to unemployed workers who were eligible.

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