Yesterday ProPublica Reporting Network reported that the unemployment insurance system is in crisis. Twenty-five states have run out of unemployment money altogether, and we project that the trust funds in nine more — Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Vermont — will go into the red in the next six months.
‘In a section on Hawaii, entitled “Predicting Hawaii’s Future, Hawaii is listed with a Current Balance of $160.8m.’
‘Faced with a record trust fund balance in 2008, Hawaii instituted an unemployment insurance tax holiday with a trigger that would dramatically increase taxes if the balance went too low. When unemployment spiked from 3 percent to 8 percent, the fund’s balance dropped precipitously, triggering a business tax increase from $90 to $1,070 per employee, on average.’
‘Hawaii’s unemployment fund will likely be depleted in six months or less.’
“Hawaii unemployment fund data 2010 centered”
‘To see details about Hawaii, log onto http://projects.propublica.org/unemployment/states/HI/’
The consequences are dire. Businesses in many states where unemployment funds have been depleted have seen their taxes raised from a few dollars to nearly $1,000 per worker for 2010. Other states are asking unemployed workers to take a hit. Pennsylvania has cut all unemployment checks by 2.3 percent, and some seniors in Virginia will lose as much as 100 percent of their benefits if they also receive Social Security.
We plan to cover this issue from the ground up in the coming months, and we’re reaching out to you for insight and help.
Do you have experience with unemployment insurance challenges or appeals? Has your business been affected by unemployment insurance rates? Have you worked in unemployment insurance administration or at a one-stop job center? Have you handled unemployment insurance issues as an HR person? Have you covered this issue as a reporter at the state level?
If you have professional behind-the-scenes experience dealing with your state’s unemployment insurance system, reply to this e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can share your stories and insights with us confidentially by e-mail or save them for a phone conversation (just tell us how we can reach you).
Or perhaps you’re unemployed or know someone who is. Please share your experiences dealing with your state’s unemployment fund with us using this form.
‘Olga Pierce and Amanda Michel are with the ProPublica Reporting Network’
PS: You can see exactly where your state’s unemployment fund stands using our new Unemployment Insurance Tracker. http://projects.propublica.org/unemployment/