President Obama Proposes Major Expansion of Unemployment Benefits

Last week President Obama proposed a series of measures that would mandate new wage support and unemployment compensation to be paid by states through unemployment insurance trust funds and federal grants.

The proposal has three core elements that would:
1.  Provide wage insurance that would replace half of lost wages, up to $10,000 over two years. Displaced workers making less than $50,000 who were with their prior employer for at least three years would be able to qualify.
2.  Expand coverage to part-time, many low-income, and intermittent workers, and workers who leave work for compelling family reasons.
3. Make it easier for companies to avoid lay-offs through work-sharing, while incentivizing states to offer and allow retraining for workers on UI or to provide relocation vouchers or subsidized employment.  It would expand intensive career counseling to the long-term unemployed, discouraged, and part-time workers.

The plan contains additional features including requiring states to maintain adequate reserves, provide 26 weeks of coverage, and provide resources for career navigators.

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