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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

ETA News Release: [08/27/2009]
Contact Name: Mike Trupo
Phone Number: (202) 693-3414
Release Number: 09-1014-CHI

U.S. Labor Department announces release of $89.3 million in unemployment insurance modernization incentive funds to Wisconsin

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today certified for release $89,289,386 in unemployment insurance (UI) modernization incentive funds to the state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin qualified for the remaining two-thirds of its share of the funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) by updating its UI program to reflect the 21st century workforce.

"Wisconsin already received part of its share of UI modernization funds for its longstanding policy of helping unemployed workers who recently entered the labor force get the assistance they deserve," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Wisconsin has now updated its law to make it easier for workers who become unemployed for compelling family reasons and workers who are upgrading their skills to be eligible for benefits. These changes not only help workers, but will contribute to the state's overall economic recovery."

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development can use the funds to pay unemployment benefits or, if appropriated by the legislature, to administer the state unemployment insurance program or deliver employment services.

State and federal officials had the following comments about this announcement:

"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is meant to soften the harshest aspects of the economic crisis which hit last year," said U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, who represents Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District. "Increased unemployment insurance for those who have lost their jobs is only one part of national efforts to moderate the damage, but it is a crucial part."

"With many of our jobs dependent on hard-hit industries like manufacturing and agriculture, there are pockets of our state where unemployment remains distressingly high," said U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl. "These additional funds help support unemployed workers seeking new jobs or learning new skills with an eye toward stable employment."

"This unemployment funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will help support many Wisconsinites as they work to get back on their feet during this economic downturn," said U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold. "Extending unemployment insurance helps workers who have lost their jobs pay for life's basic necessities and is a very effective way of stimulating the economy. I am pleased to see the stimulus is continuing to invest in those who need it most."

"During these difficult economic times, it's important we continue to invest in our workers," said Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle. "The steps we took earlier this year to bring our unemployment insurance program up to date now mean more assistance for working families hit hard by the recession. With these changes, we are receiving Recovery Act funds that we can use to pay benefits, help people return to work and move our economy forward."

The Recovery Act made a total of $7 billion available in UI modernization incentive payments to states that include certain eligibility provisions in their UI programs. Each state can qualify for a share of those funds by showing that its law includes those provisions. Wisconsin's approved application will be posted at the department's Employment and Training Administration Web site at http://www.doleta.gov/recovery. Other approved applications can also be found on this site.