As many as 500 Idahoans will lose unemployment benefits this week, according to the state Department of Labor. That termination of benefits was triggered when Idaho’s three-month average unemployment rate fell below 8 percent.
The Idahoans losing benefits are those who have been in the program the longest, and who are in its final phase. “They’re at the tail-end of the benefit program,” the Department of Labor’s Bob Fick explains. “They’ve had the hardest time finding a job.”
Unemployment benefits are distributed based on a complex set of formulas that take into consideration a worker’s earnings before he or she was laid off.
Initially, laid-off workers receive benefits through a program the state terms “basic state benefits.” Once a person has exhausted that eligibility, they may move into what the state calls “extended benefits.” (The federal government terms it Emergency Unemployment Compensation.) After an unemployed worker has exhausted that second stage of benefits, those who are still eligible may move into Federal-State Extended Benefits.
Federal-State Extended Benefits are divided into two tiers. It’s workers in the final tier of benefit recipiency who will be cut off. They may have received benefits for as long as 86 weeks.
According to Fick, Idahoans in the Federal-State Extended Benefit program received an average payment of $233.50 last week. Fick says the loss of benefits shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone enrolled in the program, as long as they’ve monitored their status through the Department of Labor website.