Federal sequester forces state to cut unemployment benefits | News

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Federal sequester forces state to cut unemployment benefits

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- More than a thousand Mainers will be losing their unemployment benefits on May 12th, some several weeks earlier than expected, due to federal budget cuts mandated by sequestration.

"The sequester requires that we cut extended unemployment compensation benefits, and the choices really came down to how many people to effect at one time and how deep the cuts would be," explained Julie Rabinowitz, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Labor.Rabinowitz says the cuts will reduce the number of weeks people can receive benefits from 63 to 54 weeks.  1100 Mainers will lose their benefits early when the cuts go into effect, with an additional 150 people losing their benefits each week moving forward.

"These are people who are the long-term unemployed and that is what makes the cut difficult," stated Rabinowitz.

She says the Department of Labor is sending out notices to people impacted by the cuts this week to inform them of the changes and direct them to resources to help them find work.

The department is also increasing the number of workshops being held around the state to help people find jobs, even temporary summer employment to help them bridge the gap until they can find more permanent employment opportunities.

Rabinowitz urges people who receive unemployment benefits to read any correspondence they receive from the department carefully and to contact them if they have any questions.  She says the Department of Labor's commissioner sent a letter in January warning people these cuts could take effect.

Veterans, people with disabilities, seniors, people who lost their jobs because the work moved overseas and people under the age of 24 are encouraged to contact the department or their local career center because they may be eligible for additional services to help them.

"It is better to check than to just think you are out there on your own," said Rabinowitz.  "We can help you with a lot of additional support."


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