Juneau – Wednesday, the Alaska House of Representatives passed legislation to help struggling workers and their families weather job losses resulting from the Alaska recession, which has been ongoing since 2015. House Bill 142, sponsored by Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage), increases the maximum weekly unemployment insurance benefit from $370 to $510 over two years to match 50 percent of the average weekly wage, which is the national norm for unemployment benefits.
“The Alaska economy is in a recession that has cost thousands of our friends and neighbors their jobs. I know many of these hard-working men and women. They are ready to go to work to support their families, but good jobs are scarce,” said Rep. Tuck. “This bill makes a long-overdue change to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Program so that more unemployed Alaskans can make it through the hard times and stay in Alaska.”[xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]The Alaska Unemployment Insurance Program provides unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own. Recipients are required to seek work actively and must report those efforts to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which administers the program.
“The fiscal crisis that caused the ongoing recession in Alaska was not caused by individual workers, but they and their families are all too often the ones who suffer when businesses have to cut back and lay off workers,” said Rep. Tuck. “Unemployment benefits are not a handout; they are a hand up. A modest increase in the benefits available will make a tremendous difference in the ability of unemployed Alaskans to feed and support their family while still trying to find a job. I think that’s a good thing and hope my colleagues in the Senate will agree by passing this bill quickly.”
House Bill 142 passed the Alaska House of Representatives today by a vote of 22-16. The bill will now be sent to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.