More states to cut long-term jobless benefits
U.S. military veterans meet potential employers at a job fair for former military personnel on the campus of Rutgers University March 13, 2012, in Newark, N.J. / Getty Images
(CBS News) Unemployment benefits will be cut Saturday for thousands more Americans who have been out of work for more than a year and a half as their states fail to meet tighter eligibility standards the federal government set earlier this year.
Nevada, New Jersey and Rhode Island will no longer provide federal benefits to recipients who have been out of work for more than 79 weeks, according to the National Employment Law Project, which tracks unemployment data nationwide.
The cuts leave Idaho as the sole state still providing benefits for people who have been unemployed between 79 and 99 weeks, and it's expected to no longer qualify for those benefits in August or September, according to Michael Evangelist, a policy analyst for the group. In February, 35 states were still qualified to provide such benefits.
New Jersey will cut the most recipients of the three states Saturday, with about 29,000 losing their benefits, according to Brian T. Murray, a spokesman for the state's labor department. Nevada is expected to cut about 6,700 recipients and Rhode Island about 2,000, according to Evangelist.
Under the federal law that reauthorized unemployment benefits in February, a state's average jobless rate for the past three months had to be higher than a similar period of time during the past three years. The guidelines marked a change from the previous benefits law. As a result of the tighter requirements, states began to cut recipients from their rolls.
"Even if it's not ideal, even if it's not where we want it to be, there have been improvements," Murray said of New Jersey's jobless rate.
Despite having an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent, a full percentage point higher than the national average, New Jersey no longer meets the federal requirements, Murray said.
"Our rates were consistently high enough that we were eligible for it," said Murray. "The criteria was changed in the federal law, made it a little bit tighter."
The three states losing long-term unemployed benefits Saturday will still provide benefits for those who have been unemployed for up to 79 weeks, but those benefits are scheduled to expire at the end of the year unless Congress reauthorizes them.
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