State unemployment benefits top $821 million in 2005

In 2005, the state Employment Security Department paid more than $821 million in unemployment benefits, generating more than double that...

In 2005, the state Employment Security Department paid more than $821 million in unemployment benefits, generating more than double that amount in economic benefits for Washington.

For each dollar that is paid out in unemployment benefits, $2.15 is generated into the economy, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Labor. This is due to both the direct injection of dollars and the spread of those dollars throughout the economy – also known as the multiplier effect.

“It’s a little-known fact that unemployment benefits play an important role in the vitality of our economy,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee. “The system not only provides a safety net for people who lose their jobs, but also pumps money into local communities and eases the effects of lay-offs.”

According to the Department of Labor, unemployment benefits reduce the effects of a recession by 15 percent and save approximately 131,000 jobs that would be lost each year across the nation.

Some 250,992 jobless workers received unemployment benefits in Washington last year. The average recipient collected $295 each week and claimed benefits for about 15 weeks through the first nine months of the year. Weekly data are not yet available for the last three months. 

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, a worker must lose his job through no fault of his own and must look for work each week. Benefits are fully funded by employers through unemployment-insurance taxes.

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