Published May 1, 2009 | May 2009 issue
The state's rising unemployment rate is showing up in state jobless insurance payments. Payouts doubled, to $3.7 million, in December 2008 compared with a year earlier, according to the state's Department of Labor. They have since gone much higher. State officials said weekly payments in February topped $1.5 million, which they believe to be a record.
Not surprisingly, the state's insurance fund balance has been dropping. Total payments by employers (which fund worker benefits) are projected to be $22 million this year, while payments to unemployed workers are expected to reach $40 million.
If those projections hold, the fund balance would drop to just $7 million, at which point employers would have to pay higher rates of unemployment insurance. But before that happens, a state advisory council recommended that the state accept up to $12 million in federal stimulus money earmarked to offset unemployment payments.
—Ronald A. Wirtz