Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Idaho jobless claims spike

Last week’s unemployment claims are up more than 20 percent over the previous week

Express Staff Writer

The number of unemployment insurance benefit checks issued in Idaho last week jumped by more than 20 percent over the previous week.

According to the Idaho Department of Labor, 18,907 benefit checks were issued during the week ending Friday, Nov. 21, up by 3,212 from the previous week, and double the same week in 2007. The average increase for the third week of November is around 700, or about eight percent.

More than 8,800 additional jobless workers have also collected federally funded extended unemployment benefits.

"This is another indication of the severe weakening of Idaho's economy," Department of Labor Director Roger Madsen said.

More than $4.9 million in regular state benefits was paid to workers last week, up by 116 percent over the amount paid a year ago. The amount paid in federal extended benefits for the third week in November was $824,000.

"This money is critical to our citizens, their families and Idaho businesses," Madsen said. "These dollars are used to pay mortgages, heat houses and put food on the table. This money is going into local businesses and hopefully helping them stay open even when their customers aren't working."

More than 40,000 Idaho workers were without jobs in October, twice the number a year ago. The number of jobs across the state is down 1.7 percent from a year ago, with only education and health care escaping significant job losses.

In related news, the department of labor is notifying thousands of unemployed Idaho workers that they may be eligible for additional federally funded extended benefits.

Under federal legislation signed by President Bush last week, workers who have exhausted both their regular unemployment benefits and the initial allocation of federal extended benefits may be eligible for up to seven additional weeks of benefits if they still have not found jobs. Workers currently receiving their initial allocation of extended federal benefits will have the extra seven benefit weeks they are due under the new law automatically added to their entitlement, the department of labor reports.

Those who have already exhausted their initial federal extended benefits will be notified about the availability of additional benefits and advised to contact their nearest labor department office for more information.

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