Wednesday, December 4, 2013/lk
OKANOGAN Nearly 11,000 jobless residents in Washington could become eligible once again for emergency benefits, another after-effect of the federal government shutdown.
But that may only provide a few weeks’ worth of relief for some if Congress doesn’t vote to extend the entire Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which is scheduled to end Dec. 28.
October unemployment in Okanogan County was 6.4 percent, up from 5.5 percent in September but down from 6.6 percent at the same time last year, according to unemployment figures released last week.
Ferry County unemployment rates are in a similar situation. The rate was 9.8 percent in October, up from 9.1 percent in September but down compared to 10.2 percent in October 2012.
State unemployment rose to 7 percent when the government shut down Oct. 1-16, triggering re-enactment of the tier 3 emergency benefits, according to the state Employment Security Department.
“It’s ironic that the federal shutdown contributed to the rise in our unemployment rate and caused these benefits to be reactivated,” Employment Security Commissioner Dale Peinecke said.
The federal government pays emergency unemployment compensation in four tiers.
While all states qualify for tier 1, tiers 2-4 are based on the state’s three-month unemployment average.