|Friday, October 5, 2001 |
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WISCONSIN UNEMPLOYMENT TRUST FUND STRONGCurrent Economy Shows Extended Benefits Unlikely
MADISON Ė The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced today that, despite a lagging economy on the national level, the Wisconsin trust fund for paying unemployment claims is very stable and will withstand the current economic downturn.
"The unemployment insurance trust fund is one of the strongest in the nation and should close out this year with an approximate balance of $1.7 billion," DWD Secretary Jennifer Reinert said. "I have further asked my management team to report daily claims activity and fund balances to me in light of the terrorist attacks of September 11, and to advise me on what, if any, impact that event may have on current unemployment and trust fund projections," she said.
The department has received inquiries regarding the possibilities of extended benefits being authorized. Secretary Reinert said that Wisconsin supplemental benefits or federally authorized extended benefits are only available when the state insured unemployment rate reaches 4% and 5% respectively. Secretary Reinert explained that Wisconsinís insured unemployment rate, which is currently hovering around 2.5%, makes it unlikely that extended or supplemental benefits would be necessary in Wisconsin this year, or in 2002, barring legislation by Congress that would reduce the threshold for providing for extended benefits.
This issue has been raised nationally due to other states experiencing more difficult economies and their respective trust funds approaching insolvency. "Despite problems some other states may be facing, Wisconsinís unemployment program remains strong as does our trust fund."
While current unemployment claims are approximately 40% higher than the same time last year, the Division of Unemployment Insurance continues to process claims in timely order and does not forecast any deterioration of timeliness in paying benefits. Earlier this year, Secretary Reinert authorized the Division of Unemployment Insurance to increase the staffing of additional adjudicators and claims specialist to handle the projected increased workload over that of 2000.
Wisconsin paid out $516 million in benefits for year 2000 and current projections indicate that $700 million will be paid in benefits for 2001. "The Unemployment Insurance Division has geared up for the usual heavier workload that winter brings and is fully staffed by talented and dedicated professionals committed to serving the public. I have every bit of faith that our citizens will be served timely and professionally," she concluded.
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