Changes in Unemployment Insurance Legislation in 1992

By Runner, Diana | Monthly Labor Review, January 1993 | Go to article overview

Changes in Unemployment Insurance Legislation in 1992


Runner, Diana, Monthly Labor Review


Diana Runner is an unemployment insurance program specialist in the Office of Legislation and Actuarial Services, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor.

Because the Nation's economic situation did not improve at a pace that provided sufficient job prospects to individuals who had exhausted their regular unemployment benefits, the U.S. Congress extended the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program that had been enacted into law in 1991. On February 7, 1992, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 1991 (Public Law 102-164) was amended by Public Law 102-244, which increased the number of weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits payable for weeks of unemployment before June 13 from 20 to 33 in States with high unemployment rates, and from 13 to 26 in all other States. For weeks of unemployment beginning after June 13, 1992, the number of weeks of benefits available reverted back to 13 and 20. The amendments also extended the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program through July 4, 1992.

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act was further amended by the Unemployment Compensation Amendments of 1992 (Public Law 102-318). These amendments extended the emergency benefits program through March 6, 1993, for new claims, and provided for either 20 or 26 weeks of emergency benefits, depending on the unemployment rate in a State. Emergency benefits were made available to railroad workers. Also, the exclusion from coverage of aliens performing agricultural labor was extended to January 1, 1995. States are not required to change their laws to apply the alien exclusion. In addition, the bill amended the permanent Federal-State Extended Benefits Program to provide an alternative trigger for the payment of such benefits, based on the total unemployment rate in a State.

With the exception of Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts, the States made few significant changes to their unemployment insurance laws during 1992. To deal with ongoing economic difficulties, four jurisdictions-Alabama, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma--added or made permanent special taxes on employers that are imposed in addition to regular contributions to the unemployment insurance program. The special taxes will be used to secure the solvency of a State's unemployment fund, to pay interest on Federal advances to a State's' fund, and for supporting job search and job placement efforts. Three States--Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts--increased their "taxable wage base," the amount of wages subject to taxation for unemployment insurance purposes. Weekly benefit amounts were increased in Alabama and Florida, and four States amended their procedures for computing weekly benefits.

Following is a summary of some significant changes in State unemployment insurance laws.during 1992.

Alabama

Benefits. The maximum weekly benefit amount increased from $150 to $160, and will rise to $165 on January 3, 1993. Financing. For the period April 1, 1992, to March 31, 1997, all employers, except new employers and those which make contributions at the highest (5.4-percent) rate, will be assessed a special tax of 0.06 percent of covered payrolls. The regular contribution rate for affected employers is reduced by 0.06 percent for the same period.

California

Benefits. The Governor may suspend the payment of State extended benefits and Federal-State extended benefits if individuals are eligible for Federal emergency unemployment compensation benefits. To be eligible for Federal-State extended benefits, an individual must have base-period wages exceeding either 40 times the most recent weekly benefit amount or 1.5 times his or her earnings in the high quarter of the base period.

Colorado

Financing. An employer's experience rating account, which reflects his or her experience with unemployment, will not be charged for benefits paid to an individual

was hired to replace a serviceperson called into active military duty, and who was laid off upon that serviceperson' s return. …

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