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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

ETA News Release: [07/15/2009]
Contact Name: Jennifer Kaplan
Phone Number: (202) 693-5052
Release Number: 09-0829-DAL

U.S. Labor Department announces release of nearly $60 million in unemployment insurance modernization incentive funds to Arkansas

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor has certified for release $59,969,332 in unemployment insurance (UI) modernization incentive funds to the state of Arkansas. Arkansas qualified for its full share of the funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) by making it easier for recent entrants to the workforce, workers seeking part-time work and those unemployed for family reasons to be eligible for benefits.

"Arkansas modernized its UI program to better meet the needs of the 21st century workforce," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The state has added family friendly provisions that help unemployed workers who have entered the workforce recently seek part-time work, or are unemployed for family reasons."

The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services can use the funds to pay unemployment benefits or, if appropriated by the legislature, for administering its unemployment insurance program or delivering employment services.

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

"We remain dedicated to getting unemployed Arkansans back into the workforce as soon as possible," Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said. "This additional federal aid will help more of our citizens take care of themselves and their families while they get back on their feet and back on the job."

"Arkansas' unemployment insurance program is refocusing its efforts on the family — helping people get back to work to provide for their families and assisting people who cannot work because of family reasons," said Sen. Mark Pryor. "I am pleased that these federal dollars will lift up Arkansans in this tough economic climate."

"Trying to find a job during these difficult economic times continues to be a struggle for some," said Rep. Marion Berry, who represents Arkansas' 1st Congressional District. "This funding will be a relief for all of those who have exhausted their benefits and will be another resource to help families move forward with their lives."

"People need help. These stimulus funds will help," said Rep. Vic Snyder, who represents Arkansas' 2nd Congressional District.

"These tough economic times present a host of challenges for Arkansas' working families, but few are more troubling than losing your job," said Mike Ross, who represents Arkansas' 4th Congressional District. "These investments are critical when you lose your job through no fault of your own, and I firmly believe we should help Arkansas families who find themselves in this unfortunate situation."

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. Arkansas' 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.