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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

ETA News Release: [06/04/2009]
Contact Name: Jennifer Kaplan
Phone Number: (202) 693-5052 or 693-4676
Release Number: 09-619-SEA

U.S. Labor Department announces release of $48.9 million in unemployment insurance modernization incentive funds to Washington

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today certified for release $48,864,609 in unemployment insurance (UI) modernization incentive funds to the state of Washington. Washington qualified for the funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) by allowing workers to use their more recent earnings to qualify for benefits.

"Washington is a progressive state that long has recognized the importance of helping workers who have entered the workforce recently and lost their jobs through no fault of their own," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Especially now, when jobs are harder to find, it is essential that these workers receive the benefits they need and deserve."

The Washington Employment Security Department can use the funds to pay unemployment benefits or, if appropriated by the state legislature, for administering its unemployment insurance program or delivering employment services.

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

"I commend Senators Murray and Cantwell and our congressional members that ensured these funds are available to Washington," said Gov. Chris Gregoire. "These funds are a recognition of our progressive unemployment insurance system, which for years has provided an alternative method that wasn't available in many other state for qualifying unemployed workers for benefits."

"Modernizing our state's unemployment system means we'll be able to help even more working families make ends meet during these difficult economic times," said U.S. Senator Patty Murray. "For our economy to truly recover, we will need to extend a lifeline to all those who have been left in the recession's wake."

"As chairman of the subcommittee that authored the federal legislation, as well the congressman who represents Seattle and surrounding communities, I am especially pleased that Washington state is taking advantage of these dollars. The funds will help Washington residents weather the economic storm and participation demonstrates the state's ongoing leadership on behalf of Washington residents," said U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, who represents Washington's 7th district. "This funding will enable Washington state to further help families keep their heads above water during the economic storm."

"More people have lost their jobs now than at any other time since World War II, and Washington state has not been immune to this economic pain," said U.S. Sen. Cantwell. "Increasing and extending unemployment compensation will enable struggling families to get the additional support they need to make it through these tough economic times."

"Southwest Washington is seeing some of the worst economic times since the Great Depression. Unemployment is high, foreclosures are on the rise and food banks are overwhelmed. Many of our friends and neighbors are struggling just to get by," said U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, who represents Washington's 3rd district. "While this money won't fix all the problems, it will provide thousands of people the assistance they need to bridge their financial gaps and meet their basic needs as our economy continues to recover."

"Families all over Washington state, from Bothell to Benton County, are hurting in this economic recession," said U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, who represents Washington's 1st district. "I'm pleased to see that Washington will get its fair share of stimulus funds for unemployment insurance. This money will help families transition through periods of unemployment and into new jobs. It's yet another sign that the recovery package has already started helping communities all around Washington state."

"With over 6,300 jobs lost in Snohomish County over the past year, it is more important than ever that we help our neighbors who have been hit hard by the recession," said U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, who represents Washington's 2nd district. "This funding from the economic recovery plan will help ensure that Washington state workers who have lost their jobs are able to connect with the resources they need to get back on their feet."

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. Washington's approved application will be posted at the department's Employment and Training Administration Web site at http://www.doleta.gov/recovery/. The approved applications of other states also can be found at this site.