Unemployment benefits to drop

About 150,000 jobless workers in Washington state will take a pay cut this week with the expiration of a federal stimulus program that added $25 to weekly benefit checks.

The $25 increase was authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program expired Saturday, Dec. 11.

Since May 2009, nearly 400,000 jobless workers in Washington state have collected more than $500 million from this additional benefit, which was not offered on new claims that were opened after May 2010.

"When your check is only two or three hundred dollars a week, $25 is significant," said Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause.

He said, "The federal stimulus benefits have not only enhanced unemployment lifeline for our jobless workers, but also pumped money into local businesses."

Washington's average weekly benefit is about $370, while the minimum weekly check is $135.



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