Alaska’s extended benefit period will be ending in December

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 6:16 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On Monday, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced that the state’s extended benefit period will be ending on Dec. 11.

“As of December 11, the extended benefit program will no longer be payable to those individuals that were previously filing for that type of benefits,” said Patsy Westcott, director of the Division of Employment and Training Services.

The extension had been in effect since May 2020. It gave Alaskans the opportunity to file for additional unemployment benefits, ranging anywhere from an additional $56 to $370 a week. Extended benefits trigger on and off in a state, Wescott explained, depending on the state’s unemployment rate.

“We are now in a situation where, our total unemployment rate, has reduced to a level that extended benefits will be triggering off,” Westcott said.

In order for that extension to hold, the state has to have a total average unemployment rate of at least 6.5% for a 3-month period. At the end of October, Alaska had a 6.1% unemployment rate, just over the national average which stands at 4.6%, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce.

Economic experts say that Alaska is now seeing an similar unemployment rate as they had prior to the pandemic. They say, that they do not expect the end of the extension benefits to have an impact on the consumer market.

“I think when it comes to the overall economic impacts of the benefits, of the extended benefits going away, I don’t think that we’ll see much of an impact at like the macro level, you know, like we might have with the with the other pandemic benefits, the extra $300 or the extra $600 a week,” said Nolan Klouda, executive director of the Center for Economic Development.

According to Klouda, those benefits had an impact on how much spending was done in the market. The extension, he says, did not do a similar trend. Instead, he says, the economy is busting right now for job seekers.

“We have a market right now that is hiring fast, that is starved for workers, and so those who are seeking jobs have a lot of options, and are seeing even some wage growth in what’s available out there,” Klouda said.

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