House approves boost in unemployment benefits

Posted: Sunday, May 06, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Unemployment benefits would go up under a bill that passed the House unanimously Friday.

Rep. Lisa Murkowski, R-Anchorage, said Alaska ranks last out of the 50 states in the percentage of average weekly wages it provides in unemployment benefits.

''That is not a position we want to be in,'' Murkowski said. ''This bring us to just about 50 percent of the average weekly wage, which is a place where we should be.''

Under House Bill 58, the maximum weekly benefit would rise from $248 a week to $272 a week as of Jan. 1, 2002. It would increase again to $296 in 2003 and to $320 in 2004.

Phasing the increase in over three years will ease the burden on employers, who pay 80 percent of the cost of the unemployment insurance program, Murkowski said. Employees pay the other 20 percent.

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