Dec 21, 201109:52 AMBlog

Unemployment recipients, payments fall

Dec 21, 2011 - 09:52 AM
After two record-setting years, the number of people in Washington receiving unemployment benefits - and the amount they received - shrank during 2011, according to the state Employment Security Department.

An estimated 440,000 people received benefits in 2011, a 12 percent drop from the all-time record of 503,000 in 2010. In 2009, 470,231 individuals collected jobless benefits. Benefit payouts will total about $3.2 billion this year, compared to $4.6 billion in 2010 and $4 billion in 2009.  More than 54 percent of the 2011 payouts were covered by federal funds, with 46 percent coming from the state's benefits fund.

Overall, the average length of time Washington workers collected unemployment benefits declined from 42.2 weeks in 2010 to about 36.2 weeks near the end of 2011.

By the end of December, about 70,000 workers will have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits, the most ever during a period when extended benefits were in effect.

Employment Security's budget is dropping by 16 percent in the July 2011-June 2013 budget period, forcing the agency to initiate its largest layoff in six years.  By the end of January, the department will have shed more than 500 positions, with more layoffs expected next summer.


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