State to cut off 10 weeks of jobless aid


The length of time out-of-work Marylanders can collect unemployment insurance payments will be cut by 10 weeks, the state announced yesterday.

Beginning Monday, anyone who exhausts the regular 26 weeks of unemployment insurance payments and applies for a second round of checks will receive payments for only 10 weeks, for a total of 36, the state's Department of Economic and Employment Development announced.

People who exhausted their regular benefits by July 3 and apply for extensions today will be eligible to receive checks for the next 20 weeks, for a total of 46 weeks, said Charles O. Middlebrooks, associate secretary for employment and training at DEED.

The average unemployment payment in Maryland is $180 a week.

Mr. Middlebrooks said DEED, which runs the state's unemployment insurance program, cut the length of payments because the federal unemployment law requires states to reduce payments when the national unemployment rate falls.

Because the country's seasonally adjusted jobless rate for the last two months fell below 7 percent, all states offering 20 weeks of additional payments were cut back to 10 weeks.

But Mr. Middlebrooks said a bill being debated in Congress would allow states like Maryland to restore the extra 10 weeks.

The bill probably won't be voted on for at least a month though, he said. And if unemployment continues to improve, it is unlikely Congress will return the extra unemployment benefits, Mr. Middlebrooks said.

Normally, the jobless are given 26 weeks of unemployment checks to tide them over while they look for work.

But in 1991, as the economy worsened, President George Bush signed into law a bill that gave the unemployed an extra 13 to 20 weeks of payments.

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