The extension of federal unemployment benefits may pump nearly $200 million into Maryland's beleaguered economy, state officials estimate.
The Department of Economic and Employment Development is notifying 45,000 of the state's jobless that they may be eligible for 13 extra weeks of benefits under the agreement reached last week between Congress and President Bush.
Bush has signed the bill into law.
"The distribution of these benefits could be a tremendous boost to Maryland's economy, particularly as we move into
the holiday season," Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of DEED, says in a statement released by his office.
Under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, the first week of payments will be for the week ending Nov. 23. No claims will be paid for any weeks of unemployment before that, according to DEED.
The program will distribute $20 million in benefits within the next six weeks, and $100 million over the next 7 1/2 months.
In the future, DEED estimates, as many as 82,000 unemployed Marylanders could become eligible for weekly payments averaging $180 over the life of the program. That would result in a total of $195.7 million in payments to Maryland residents, according to DEED.
Applications for the program will be mailed to workers who exhausted their regular 26 weeks of benefits on or after March 1, 1991. Those who ran through their benefits before that date are not covered.
Workers whose addresses have changed since first applying for unemployment benefits should notify DEED.
Nationwide, 1 million Americans are estimated to be eligible for immediate help and another 2 million are likely to qualify before the program ends on July 4.
The length of benefits varies according to the unemployment rate in each state.
Workers in 23 states and the Virgin Islands will get six weeks of help under the latest jobless figures.
Maryland is one of 18 states and the District of Columbia that will get 13 weeks, and nine states plus Puerto Rico will get 20 weeks.
Maryland's jobless rate was 5.2 percent in September, the most recent month for which figures are available.
* Worker must have exhausted the 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance on or after March 1, 1991.
* Applicants must be unemployed and cannot quit a job to apply for the extended benefits.
* Applicants are required to look for work and accept any offer paying more than their weekly benefits exceeding minimum wage.
* Potential claimants will be notified by mail of their eligibility. Contact an office of the Department of Economic and Employment Development if your address has changed since applying for regular unemployment insurance benefits.