Labor Department extends unemployment benefits

New York State Labor Commissioner Patricia Smith announced Monday that 13 weeks of additional unempl

New York State Labor Commissioner Patricia Smith announced Monday that 13 weeks of additional unemployment insurance benefits is now available for New Yorkers who have exhausted their 26 weeks of benefits.

According to state officials, the 13-week extension will pump $850 million in federal money into New York state.

“Currently, there are 22,000 more New Yorkers claiming UI benefits than there were one year ago. Without this extension, 250,000 individuals would have exhausted their benefits this year,” Smith said in a news release.

In order to be eligible for the 13 weeks of extended UI benefits, recipients must be currently unemployed through no fault of their own, have exhausted regular UI benefits on a current claim or have had a claim with a benefit year ending May 6, 2007, or later and meet basic state eligibility requirements, such as being ready, willing and able to work. Quitting employment in order to attempt to collect UI benefits results in disqualification.

New York’s unemployment rate jumped by 0.5 percentage points in May, according to the latest statistics available from the state Labor Department. Unemployment climbed from 4.7 percent in April to 5.2 percent in May, the largest month-over-month increase since January 1991, according to state officials. May’s figure was 0.7 percent higher than in May 2007.

Unemployment in the Capital Region experienced a similar jump, from 4.4 percent in April to 4.8 percent in May, compared with 3.6 percent in May 2007.

Jim Ross, Capital Region labor market analyst for the state Department of Labor, said local unemployment is dominated by several sectors.

“Generally we’re seeing more manufacturing jobs being laid off. We’ve also seen a lot of financial jobs lost. Banks, insurance companies, things like that. That’s also been a big loser,” Ross said.

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