In 2008, the federal government enacted temporary emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) for people who run out of their regular state unemployment benefits. The program expires at the end of the year. Washington workers are eligible for 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits, and under the EUC program, they may currently be eligible for 37 additional weeks, for a total of 63 weeks.
Real Time Economics, a Wall Street Journal blog, has an interesting set of maps showing the maxiumum duration of unemployment benefits in the states over the last five years. The maximum duration in Washington was 46 weeks in November 2008; 99 weeks in November 2009, 2010 and 2011; and 63 weeks in November 2012. As the blog post notes,
Congress has repeatedly extended the benefits amid persistently high joblessness, but the programs have also grown more restrictive over time. Many states no longer qualify for the most generous programs, which are pegged to states’ unemployment rates, and Congress has also cut back the maximum weeks available even to the states that do qualify.
The Wall Street Journal reports that
More than 40% of the nearly five million Americans who receive unemployment insurance are set to lose those benefits if federal programs expire as scheduled at year-end. . . . About 2.1 million Americans receive payments through federally backed emergency unemployment programs . . . . That number has tumbled from more than 3.5 million at the start of the year and a peak of more than six million in early 2010, reflecting not just the gradual improvement of the job market but also new limits that have pushed hundreds of thousands of workers off the rolls before they could find jobs.
The average duration of unemployment insurance benefits in Washington was 13.7 weeks in the first quarter of 2009 (28th highest in the nation), 20.4 weeks in the first quarter of 2010 (16th highest), 18.7 weeks in the first quarter of 2011 (21st highest), and 17.2 weeks in the first quarter of 2012 (19th highest).