President Bush has authorized the extension of disaster unemployment benefits to individuals affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Louisiana Department of Labor announced.
“Approximately 92,000 people whose unemployment is a direct result of either storm will be eligible for up to 13 weeks of continued benefits,” said Secretary of Labor John Warner Smith.
Those who are eligible for the extension will receive notification from the labor department through the U.S. Postal Service. Individuals do not have to call the department to apply for the extension; however they still must call in each week to meet the standard weekly reporting requirement.
The department will re-compute payments for claimants according to federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance guidelines. Based upon these calculations, some people may receive more than they had been receiving; others may receive less. The minimum weekly benefit for Disaster Unemployment Assistance is $98; the maximum is $258.
The cost of extending benefits will be paid by the federal government, Smith said.
The extension covers hurricane-related claims both in Louisiana and out of state. It is important for claimants to keep their mailing address current; failure to do so may result in the delay of benefits.
To make a change of address, visit the department’s Web site, www.LAWORKS.net; or call (866) 783-5567.
The Louisiana DOL also reported that unemployment dropped in January and that more than 11,000 non-farm new jobs were added in the state. The state’s unemployment rate for January 2006 dropped to 4.8 percent, down from the revised December 2005 unemployment rate of 6.4 percent.
The decrease was caused by a combination of factors: a continued reduction in the number of unemployment claims; a drop in the estimated number of unemployed from the monthly household sample survey; and the return to pre-hurricane methodology to estimate the number of unemployed with the model typically removing seasonal fluctuations in January such as layoffs at the end of the holiday season. These factors were responsible for the lowest January unemployment rate since January 2000 when the rate was 4.5 percent.
According to the estimates, the state’s civilian labor force in January 2006 was 1,892,888, down from 1,909,833 in December. The total number of employed in January increased to 1,801,230, from 1,788,478 in December. Louisiana’s number of unemployed for January was 91,658, down from 121,355 for the previous month. Nationally the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in January 2006, 4.9 percent for a revised December rate, and 5.2 percent for January last year.
For more detailed information on the January 2006 employment data for Louisiana, visit the DOL Web site at www.LAWORKS.net, scroll over the tab at the top of the page for Labor Market Information, click on Publications & Reports, and select LMI Bulletin.
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