Unemployment benefits extended to help those seeking work

PLATTSBURGH During her address, New York State Department of Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith also announced the launch of extended state unemployment benefits. Those benefits will now reach beyond the previous 26-week allotment for those utilizing the services while searching for work. The extension was sought, said Smith, due to statistics which showed 35 percent of individuals on unemployment insurance exhausted their benefits in 2007. That means, at the end of 26 weeks, they were no longer eligible for benefits but they still hadnt found a job, explained Smith. That number is increasing significantly. It was for that reason one of the first things [Gov. David A. Paterson] did when he came into office was to start to lobby the congressional delegation to get a national extension on unemployment benefits. In May, the national unemployment rate increased from 5 percent to 5.5 percent, which is the largest single monthly jump in 22 years, said Smith. In New York State, that figure increased from 4.7 percent to 5.2 percent the largest jump seen by the state in 17 years. Its clear for individuals on unemployment insurance, that its taking longer and longer to find a job, she said. The extension of benefits, which is being funded from the federal level, will put $850 million into the state economy, said Smith, including an additional $22 million in the North Country, which will be a great stimulus to the local economy. I really believe that the North Country, of any region in the state, has come together, has a plan has a strategy, and has all the important sectors on board government officials, education, economic development, workforce development, said Smith. Its putting resources toward that strategy that is the way every region in upstate is going to grow in the future.

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