By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — Unemployment benefits for about 11,500 Wisconsinites will be ending June 23, because the state’s unemployment rate dropped.
“The state of Wisconsin has received official notification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that the continued improvement in our state’s unemployment rate triggered a reduction in the total amount of federal emergency unemployment benefits that are available in Wisconsin,” WisconsinDepartment of Workforce Development legislative liaison Connie Schulze wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
Unemployed Wisconsinites now will be eligible for up to 60 weeks of unemployment benefits, instead of 73 weeks.
It’s the second time this year that a decline in the state’s unemployment rate prompted a cut in the number of weeks a person is eligible for benefits.
In April, the number of weeks dropped from 86 to 73, after Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent.
With unemployment down now below 7 percent, the number of weeks has dropped again.
The potential savings could be in the millions of dollars, although the extended benefits program is covered by federal funds, DWD spokesman John Dipko said.
Republicans and Democrats have been battling over the direction of the state’s economy, but Gov. Scott Walker’s office last month showed the state added 23,000 jobs in 2011.
“Any assertion that Wisconsin lost jobs last year is wholly inaccurate,” Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said in a statement.
If lower unemployment is good for the economy, however, a cut in benefits increase the struggle for those relying on the money, said Jon Peacock, director of the liberal-leaning Wisconsin Budget Project.
“For long-term jobless workers this is going to cost them roughly $3,000 over a three-month period. … That’s obviously a huge hit for a family that’s trying to scrape by, and it could be the difference between being able to keep making their mortgage payments and having to think about selling their home or moving into an apartment,” he said.