Kentucky to cut unemployment benefits next year

WATCH | Kentucky to cut unemployment benefits next year
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 3:59 PM EST
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Scott County, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky is among the states with the longest possible unemployment benefits, at 26 weeks.

However, come January, 1, those unemployment benefits will change for the first time in 84 years. The change comes with the passing of House Bill 4.

Kentucky Representative Phillip Pratt calls house bill 4 the “get people back to work bill.”

“Right now, workforce participation is at 53.8%, Representative Pratt said. “That is 48th in the nation.”

Representative Pratt cites Kentucky’s current UI benefits as part of the problem. Which is why he says a change is necessary. With the passing of House Bill 4, come January 1, Kentucky’s unemployment benefits will vary based on the state’s average unemployment rate for three-month periods.

The rate from July through September will determine the benefits for claims filed the following January through June. The rate from January through March will determine benefits for the following July through December. However, Representative Pratt says there are ways to receive extended benefits.

“You can go get job training and we will pay you longer to do that,” Representative Pratt said. “it actually incentivizes people to go back to BCTC and get an associate degree or actually shadow someone.”

Some have raised concerns about benefits being based on the state average as there are severe differences when you compare the rates county-by-county. In 2021, Kentucky’s statewide unemployment rate was 4.7%. However, 13 Kentucky counties had an unemployment rate of 7% or more.

“Federal rules, right now, say we cannot index it county-by-county, It has to be statewide average,” Representative Pratt said. “So, we can’t address that right now, but we do have to get more good paying jobs into eastern Kentucky or anywhere in Kentucky that has a lower UI number.”

Representative Pratt says they are working to address this issue at a local level.

We reached out to the Kentucky office of unemployment to find out what happens if someone applies for unemployment benefits before January 1. Will they receive 26 weeks or 12 weeks? we were told that our question could not be answered at this time, as they have not yet received training regarding the changes made by House Bill 4.