Friday, September 25, 2009

Labor commissioner pushes for extension of unemployment insurance

unemployment insurance

Unemployment benefits for about 1,900 people in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region are expected to expire by Oct. 4 — and that number could more than double by year’s end, state officials said.

At a news conference in Niagara Falls, M. Patricia Smith, commissioner of the New York Department of Labor, called on legislators in Washington, D.C., to pass an extension of unemployment insurance.

State officials said the Rochester number could jump to 4,500 by Dec. 31 unless legislators take action.

Labor officials said estimates indicate that up to 40,000 New Yorkers will exhaust their benefits statewide in the week ending Oct. 4, and about 90,000 by the end of the year.

Nationwide, more than 400,000 are slated to exhaust their benefits by the end of September and more than 1 million Americans will exhaust benefits by the end of the year, according to the state department.

On Sept. 22, the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to extend unemployment insurance for an additional 13 weeks for states with unemployment rates at or above 8.5 percent. State officials hope to convince the U.S. Senate to take up the measure.

New York’s unemployment rate now stands at 9 percent.