Wall Street Journal (03/20/13) Ben Casselman
Unemployment benefits are being cut back, and this is hitting people hard, particularly in states with unemployment rates above the national average. Benefits are being cut in part due to the improving job market and also because of budget challenges at the state and federal level. In Michigan, for example, where unemployment is 8.9%, jobless benefits will soon be cut to less than a year of benefits for the first time since 2007. At one point Michigan was offering 99 weeks of jobless benefits. It will now become the 19th state to offer less than a year of benefits.
Nationally, states are offering 55 weeks of benefits on average, but there is a wide disparity among the states’ unemployment rates and the duration of their jobless benefits. Alaska, for example, offers 86 weeks of benefits—currently the longest duration—even though its unemployment rate is 6.7%, while Georgia and South Carolina offer less than a year of benefits despite unemployment rates of 8.7%. North Carolina, meanwhile, will cut its benefits to just 20 weeks beginning in July.