Unemployment benefits decreasing in Oklahoma

Thursday, February 5th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

As the unemployment rolls swell, the money for benefits is taking a hit. News on 6 anchor Terry Hood has more on the drop in cash for those who are out of work.

A sluggish economy has more people filing for benefits and collecting that money longer. The state bank account for unemployment benefits is starting to run low. This in turn, takes a toll on the unemployed.

If you filed for unemployment last year, you would receive about $300 every week for six and a half months, or until you found a job. Now, the state unemployment fund has had to drop that maximum weekly benefit to $275. The change only affects newly laid off workers who are filing for unemployment benefits for the first time.

At Workforce Oklahoma, the change is not welcome news. But the law was designed to keep checks coming, even if it's a smaller amount. Program manager Sharon Norris: "The legislators considered it was better in these circumstances to give $25 a week than to all of a sudden say 'well, we don’t have any more money to write checks.'"

The unemployed aren't the only ones feeling the pinch. Employers pay into the unemployment benefit trust fund through taxes. They're also experiencing a significant tax hike. For some, the rate is almost double.