Louisiana’s maximum unemployment benefit increases 11% in 2022

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BATON ROUGE – A compromise on unemployment will result in a maximum increase of 11% in unemployment benefits for unemployed Louisianans, starting this week.

Gov. John Bel Edwards agreed to end federal unemployment benefits tied to funding COVID-19 aid five weeks early last year in exchange for the GOP-controlled legislature’s pledge to increase permanently allocations at the state level.

The result was Act 276 and the first increase in unemployment benefits in more than a decade.

“We have one of the lowest unemployment benefit amounts in the country, and it has been more than 10 years since we increased the amount of money people can collect,” said Ava Cates, secretary of the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC). “Meanwhile, the cost of everything from gasoline to groceries has gone up.”

The new maximum weekly benefit is $ 275, an increase of $ 28 per week.

Cates said people filing a claim as of Jan. 2 will see the increase. Claims filed on January 1 will be backdated to December 26.

Cates said the timing of the change will require many recipients to reapply, as Sunday marked the start of a new quarter of eligibility.

“The first Sunday of each calendar quarter marks a change in the time period used to determine eligibility for unemployment benefits based on wages,” she said.

Twenty-six states ended the federal unemployment increase of $ 300 per week before its scheduled expiry on September 6. Edwards was the only Democratic governor to do so, as of July 31.

Business groups, Republican lawmakers and other critics of federal unemployment benefits have said the benefits discourage workers from re-entering the workforce.

A statement from the Baton Rouge Region Chamber of Commerce during compromise negotiations said federal improvement made sense when businesses were shut down during the pandemic, but not when government-imposed lockdowns were lifted .

“The weekly payment, combined with state unemployment assistance, is currently equivalent to almost $ 14 an hour, which is almost the state’s median individual income. In other words, you can be in the middle of the pack in terms of income by not working, ”the statement said.

Democratic MPs were divided on the issue.

“I just can’t believe you are doing this, denying federal unemployment to people who have had the hardest year of their lives,” Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, told colleagues at the meeting. of the debate in the room.

Representative Chad Brown, D-Plaquemine, who sponsored Bill 183or what would become Act 276, said he had “heartburn” from the compromise, but “a permanent increase in the future is desperately needed.”

The Senate approved the measure, 32-5, on the last day of the 2021 legislative session, while the House approved it 74-27. Edwards signed the law on June 15.

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