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Unemployment rate changes benefits

The U.S. Department of Labor notified the State of Utah recently that based on data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the three-month average total unemployment rate for Utah fell below the 6 percent threshold to remain "on" Tier III of the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program.

As a result of the state's 5.8 percent, three-month average total unemployment rate, the current maximum potential entitlement will decrease from 47 weeks to 34 weeks. The week ending April 7, 2012 will be the last week in which Utah EUC claimants can exhaust Tier II benefits and establish Tier III eligibility.

Under the phase-out provisions, claimants can continue to receive any remaining entitlement they have in Tier III after April 7, 2012, provided they are otherwise eligible.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services administers the unemployment insurance program in Utah. The Department will begin sending out notices April 8, 2012 to about 260 claimants per week informing them that they have exhausted their Tier II EUC benefits and are not currently entitled to any further unemployment benefits.

The Department will continue to provide the claimants valuable re-employment, training, and educational opportunities, as well as other supportive services that may be available.

The federal EUC program originally became effective in July 2008 for unemployed workers who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits. The program has been extended and expanded multiple times and was currently authorized to pay up to an additional 47 weeks of emergency federal benefits on top of the original 26 weeks of regular state unemployment benefits for a total of up to 73 weeks of benefits.

Utah and Minnesota became the eighth and ninth states to "trigger off" EUC Tier III benefits because of lower unemployment rates. The EUC federal program paid approximately $50 million dollars to unemployed Utah workers in emergency benefits during the past three months according to Bill Starks, DWS Unemployment Insurance Director.

To get more information or file a claim for EUC benefits, go to the Internet at JOBS.UTAH.GOV or phone the state UI Claims Center. (Salt Lake/South Davis Counties: 801-526-4400; Weber/North Davis Counties: 801-612-0877; Utah County: 801-375-4067; and elsewhere in the state and out-of-state: 888-848-0688).

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