Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson Applauds President Obama’s Push for Stronger Unemployment Insurance System and Wage Insurance
This weekend, President Obama announced proposals to strengthen the unemployment insurance (UI) system and create wage insurance programs—policies that stand to benefit millions of unemployed and underemployed Floridians.
According to a 2015 report from the National Employment Law Project, eligibility and procedural restrictions on Florida’s UI program have made it virtually impossible for many unemployed Floridians to access the UI benefits they need to maintain economic security after a job loss. In 2015, only 12 percent of unemployed Floridians received unemployment benefits—the lowest rate in the country and well below the national average of 27 percent. Additionally, Florida only provides a maximum of 14 weeks of benefits, the country’s second-lowest level in the nation, and nearly half the national norm of 26 weeks.
The president’s proposal would strengthen unemployment insurance programs by restoring the 26-week maximum benefit levels and ensuring that more workers, including certain low-income workers, are covered.
“Floridians who lose their jobs by no fault of their own find it unnecessarily difficult to access the unemployment insurance benefits they need to continue to support themselves and their families. I applaud the administration’s proposal to strengthen the unemployment insurance system so that more Floridians have access to the benefits they need to stay afloat while they look for new work,” said Congresswoman Wilson.
President Obama’s proposal would also require states to create a wage insurance program to replace lost wages for experienced workers who take a pay cut in their new jobs.
“Many Floridians who put in years of work at a job struggle to find comparable work if laid off. They often are forced to make the difficult decision to accept a job with a drastic pay cut or face long-term unemployment,” said Congresswoman Wilson. “Wage insurance ensures unemployed Floridians can quickly return to work and take steps toward regaining the comparable pay and positions they once held.”
This year, Congresswoman Wilson introduced the comprehensive Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Act of 2015, modeled after President Obama’s 2011 comprehensive job-creation bill, the American Jobs Act. The Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Act of 2015 includes provisions that allow states to use unemployment insurance funds to implement wage insurance programs.
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson is a third-term Congresswoman from Florida representing parts of Northern Miami-Dade and Southeast Broward counties. A former state legislator and school principal, she is the founder of the 5000 Role Models for Excellence Project, a mentoring program for young males at risk of dropping out of school. Congresswoman Wilson also founded the Florida Ports Caucus, a bipartisan taskforce that coordinates federal action in support of Florida’s harbors and waterways.