Beshear to hold press conference on unemployment insurance

Gov. Steve Beshear and Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Helen Mountjoy will hold a press conference about unemployment insurance in the state Capitol  this afternoon.

The Cabinet announced earlier this month that its automated unemployment insurance claims system has been “shored up” to handle an unprecedented number of initial claims in December. The state paid a single-month record of more than $78.6 million in claims last month. 

From a Jan. 8 press release by the Cabinet –

“The number of initial claims taken in December (88,195) eclipsed the previous single-month record of 72,252 initial claims that were processed in January 1983. Also, the $78.6 million was $24 million more than the previous record-high of $54 million paid out in January 2002,” said Russell Salsman, director of OET, an agency in the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet that administers the UI program.

More details after the press conference, which begins at 1 p.m. CST.

Update, 1:58 p.m. …

Beshear today announced the formation of a task force to look at the long-term viability of the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and has asked the U.S. Department of Labor for a line of credit to help cover the state’s rising claims from the jobless. 

According to Beshear’s office, Kentucky has about $50 million in the unemployment insurance fund, down from $116 million in December and $175 million in October. The current balance is only enough to cover about two weeks of payments on unemployment claims. 

“This is merely a short-term solution to a long-term complex issue,” Beshear said in a statement. “By taking this initial step, we can assure those who are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits will continue to receive assistance. No one will see a disruption in their benefits. We now must take a hard look at the system to ensure that its components are reflective of the significant changes the economy has experienced in the past quarter century.”

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