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Bill will aid Oregon unemployment insurance system
CONTACT:  Tom Fuller
WorkSource Oregon Employment Department

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, also known as the Federal Stimulus Package, signed into law by the President last week includes many enhancements to Oregon’s unemployment insurance system.
Increase in weekly benefit amount
Every Oregonian receiving unemployment benefits will see a $25 increase in their weekly benefits.  The Oregon Employment Department worked quickly to put in place all programming necessary so that the increase in payments could begin as soon as possible.  Oregonians will see the increase in benefits beginning this week, March 2, 2009.  For Oregon this could mean up to $200 million in additional federal funds.
Extending Emergency Unemployment Compensation
The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Program passed last year by Congress was scheduled to sunset in March 2009.  The bill extends the time a person can file for EUC until December 31, 2009.  EUC allows for up to 33 weeks of unemployment benefits for those who exhaust their original 26-week claim.
The amount of aid a state would receive is dependent on the number of unemployment insurance claimants.  At this time Oregon is expected to receive $200-$400 million for EUC.  With the expected unemployment insurance workload, the Oregon Employment Department anticipates the allocation to be near the top of this range.
Extended Benefits
With Oregon experiencing a high unemployment rate, the state is eligible for the Extended Benefits (EB) Program.  The EB Program allows for up to 20 additional weeks of benefits for Oregonians who have exhausted their original 26-week claim and their EUC claim.  Normally, 50% of the cost of these benefits are paid by the state and 50% by the federal government.  Under the bill, 100% of EB benefits would be paid for by the federal government.
Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act (UIMA)
Oregon would receive $90 million under the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act (UIMA) of this bill.  UIMA requires certain changes to how Oregon currently administers its unemployment insurance program.  Legislation is currently before the Oregon Legislature to bring into statute laws that would bring Oregon into compliance with the UIMA. If these state statutes are passed, more Oregonians potentially would be eligible for unemployment insurance.
Trade Act Assistance
The bill expands the Trade Act Assistance (TAA) program.  The Trade Act assists individuals who have become unemployed as a result of increased imports from, or shifts in production to, foreign countries. Under the expanded program, more Oregonians will be eligible for the program.
Taxing of unemployment insurance benefits
Currently, unemployment insurance benefits are fully taxable.  Under the new bill, the first $2,400 of benefits will be free from federal taxes for tax year 2009.