Think for a minute:Â Who do you know that lost a job in 2009?Â Â Chances are that you can think of someone.Â I can think of many: The wife of an old friend, a caller to Nebraska Appleseedâ€™s Intake line, a parent I know at a local schoolâ€¦Job loss has been difficult for many families this year. Â Nebraska has a unique opportunity in 2010 to help 2,100 such people â€“ as well as many more in the future through our Unemployment Insurance program if we take action.
The Unemployment Insurance program is designed to protect and support workers in difficult economic times such as these.Â The program runs because employees and employers pay into a trust fund that pays out benefits.Â It is administered by the state of Nebraska.Â Unfortunately, not all workers are able to access this vital support.Â In fact, many part-time and low-income workers are unable to participate due to Nebraska rules that require a minimum amount of earnings to qualify for benefits.
Fortunately, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides an opportunity for Nebraska to update our program, to better include vulnerable workers, and to receive $43.6 million in federal funds to cover new workers and make administrative changes. Â In order to receive these funds, our state leaders must choose to implement rules to take into consideration the most recent quarter of work in determining eligibility for benefits, as well as make other changes that would benefit part time workers, families caring for sick relatives, or other vulnerable workers.Â Â The federal dollars will also decrease taxes on businesses in 2011, a crucial time of economic recovery.
These Unemployment Insurance policy changes would make at least 2,100 more people eligible for benefits that they can use to pay utility bills, buy groceries, or pay the rent while they look for work.Â The time to take action now and we call on our state leaders to move forward to make these important changes.Â See our policy paper and press release about this issue.