Several States Refuse Federal Unemployment Assistance, Jobless Residents Suffer

As many as 244,000 unemployed workers are missing out on receiving much-needed unemployment benefits, says a report by

In a long and bitter battle late last year, Congress voted to extend unemployment benefits an additional 13 months in states suffering from high unemployment. But 10 states eligible to receive the federal assistance have yet to pass legislation to accept the funds. Those states are Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

“The fact that these 10 states have thus far failed to enact such legislation is, frankly, mind-boggling,” said writer Mitchell Hirsch. “Not only have they been hurting jobless workers in their states – they’re hurting their economies as well. These states could be providing [extended benefits] to help thousands upon thousands of struggling families – at very little cost to the states themselves. And, as we’ve reported previously, every dollar of unemployment insurance spent by jobless workers and their families creates between $1.60 and $2.00 of additional economic activity.”

Another report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) shows 12 states have refused to accept federal funds put in place to help states modernize their unemployment insurance systems.

In February 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) made $7 billion available for states to bring their 1930s-era programs in line with today’s changing workforce. These federal modernization funds have been making their way to states just when they need help the most – to pay benefits, boost state employment trust funds and help more jobless families weather an extremely difficult job market.