A bill headed to the governor would raise unemployment rates $50 a week.

Rise in unemployment pay heads to Carney’s desk

Shannon C. Keith Government, Headlines

A bill headed to the governor would raise unemployment rates $50 a week.

A bill headed to the governor would raise unemployment rates $50 a week.

A bill that would increase unemployment payments by $50 a week is headed to Gov. John Carney’s desk after essentially skating through the General Assembly.

The Delaware Senate passed House Bill 49 Thursday. 

It also will allow the state to use the Delaware Unemployment Trust Fund to pay employer shares of that raise, but only for 2023.

The rise will be effective retroactively to Jan. 1, 2023.

Sponsor Rep. Ed Osienski, D-Newark, said House Bill 49 would bring Delaware more in line with unemployment payments offered in neighboring states. 

It’s the first change to the maximum payment amount in four years.

 Senate Minority Leader Gerald W. Hocker (R-Oceanview) opposed the change.

 “Why are we making it more attractive for those who don’t want to work?” he asked. “I’m totally upset with people who won’t and we need to change that.”

Unemployment numbers

 As of November, the state identified 22,000 unemployed individuals with 37,000 open positions.

During January, the state paid an estimated 4,900 claims, with 25% of those unemployed collecting partial or full benefits.

The average time people spend collecting varies between 13.9 and 16 weeks, with a 26-week maximum allowed. The average unemployment benefit is $292 and the top is now $400.

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As of November 2022, the state’s unemployment rate was the fifth highest in the nation at 4.4%. According to Statista Research, the national unemployment rate spiked to 8.1% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Jack Walsh, Newport/Stanton mini-bond bill unemployment

Jack Walsh

 Funds in the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund were depleted by the surge of pandemic related claims but funds have been replaced by federal COVID-19 money.

Sen. John “Jack” Walsh, D-Newark/Stanton, said the fund has $400 million when it normally has $200 million.

A member of the Office of Unemployment testified in a House hearing that the office considers the trust fund fully funded with $270 million so it could afford to pay the company portion of any additional taxes for the calendar year 2023.

Walsh reminded his colleagues that the bill would help people “and that’s what we’re here to do.”

Helping employers should reduce or hold constant state employer tax rates.

The Department of Labor plans to simplify tax rate schedules that are used to calculate unemployment assessments paid by employers. There are more than 70 right now.

It’s estimated that the tax assessment changes will result in a $50 million reduction in tax obligations for employers in 2023.




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