The Duncan Banner

March 17, 2013

Sequestration cuts to hit jobless

Megan Bristow
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Thousands of jobless workers in Oklahoma receiving federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) will soon see a reduction in their weekly benefits because of sequestration. EUC is a federally funded benefit for long-term unemployed workers who exhaust regular state unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.

Sequestration-forced budget cuts means payments of EUC made on or after March 31, must be reduced by 10.7 percent. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) is sending notices to the active EUC recipients impacted by these cuts.

EUC was first established in July 2008 to help the long-term unemployed as they continued to look for work. When individuals exhaust regular state unemployment benefits, eligible claimants can then collect EUC benefits for a maximum of 14 weeks. EUC is paid entirely by the federal government and doesn’t impact the trust fund that Oklahoma uses to pay regular unemployment benefits.

Chris Moore, Center Manager for Duncan’s Workforce Oklahoma, said the change in the extended benefits is not going to affect as many people in Duncan because the number of unemployed has continued to decrease over the past year.

Moore said at this time last year the unemployment rate was a little over 6 percent while it is at about 5 percent right now.

He said people who are receiving benefits can visit www.oesc.ok.gov to find out how much their benefits are going to be reduced by and they will also be receving information in the mail.

As the cuts are very new, he said he is not completely sure how much change they should expect. He does expect the unemployment compensation extensions to be reduced.

“Normally, compensation is given for six months,”  Moore said. “That is about how long it usually takes to find a job similar to what they were doing before.”

Recently, extensions have provided benefits for up to a year of unemployment.