Connecticut increased the weekly unemployment benefit as the state continues to borrow hundreds of million of dollars to bolster the fund used to pay those benefits.
The weekly unemployment benefit for new filers in Connecticut increased by $18 on Oct. 4 to a maximum of $667, state labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said.
The change does not apply to claimants currently receiving unemployment benefits or those who filed before Oct. 4.
The weekly benefit rate is based on an average of all Connecticut workers calculated between April 2019 and March 2020—$1,349 a week, Westby said.
The hike comes as Connecticut increases borrowing for the Unemployment Trust Fund—the pool of money that provides weekly payments to workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
Westby said the state borrowed $342 million as of the end of September and submitted borrowing requests of $150 million for October, $150 million for November, and $250 million for December.
That’s $892 million.
“The state makes the decision to borrow the money, but every dollar, plus interest, gets paid back exclusively by Connecticut businesses,” said CBIA's Eric Gjede.
For years, CBIA has urged state lawmakers to bolster the trust fund through a series of measures that would restore solvency at no cost to the state and no cut in weekly benefits.
“Making the same sensible reforms other states have made is a critical part of helping rebuild the state’s economy,” Gjede said.
The fund had a balance of about $700 million in December before the pandemic hit.
The U.S. Department of Labor said the balance should have been around $1.5 billion to weather an economic downturn, let alone one as devastating as the pandemic.
Westby also clarified wage regulations for restaurant workers.
As of Sept. 24, tipped food service workers must be paid a minimum of $12 an hour when they are doing duties other than tipped food service for more than two hours or 20% of their time.
The tipped hourly credit rate of $6.38 remains, he said.