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November 9, 2004

Job losses drain state's UI fund

New York employers will pay an additional federal unemployment-insurance tax of $21 per employee in January, to replenish a fund drained by job losses during and after the last national recession.

The federal Labor Department advanced New York's unemployment fund hundreds of millions of dollars to pay UI benefits in 2002, 2003 and this year. Under federal law, the loan must be repaid under one of three approaches. The $21-per-employee charge represents the lowest cost of the three alternatives in the coming year.

Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh said the state's UI fund is depleted "because we're not creating and keeping enough jobs in the Empire State."

"For the 12 months ending in September, employment in New York rose by 0.7 percent, roughly half the national average," Walsh said. More dollars flow into the UI fund as employment rises, and payouts to beneficiaries diminish as unemployment decreases.

"The increase in New York State's unemployment-insurance tax, while unavoidable, is an additional cost burden on employers," Walsh said. "The solution to this problem, as with so many others, is to keep the jobs we have and bring more jobs to New York. That will mean more dollars flowing into the UI fund, and fewer unemployed workers collecting benefits. We need more jobs. We don't need more taxes."