PROVIDENCE – The maximum benefit rate for unemployment insurance will remain unchanged at $566 per week in fiscal year 2015, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training announced Wednesday.
For UI beneficiaries with five or more dependents, the rate will remain at $707 per week, the DLT said, for a maximum of 26 weeks annually.
As of March 31, the average length of time an eligible Rhode Island beneficiary collected UI payments was 16.2 weeks, compared with the national average of 16.7 weeks.
“The rate calculation changes included in the Chafee administration’s UI overhaul and repayment plan in 2011 have stabilized Rhode Island’s UI trust fund for three straight years and positioned DLT to be able to pay off the balance of our state loan from the federal government this November – seven months ahead of schedule,” said DLT Director Charles J. Fogarty.
The state’s trust fund became insolvent in March 2009 due to the abnormally high unemployment rate following the 2008 recession, which peaked at 11.9 percent. Rhode Island and 29 other states had to borrow from the federal government to make UI payments. The outstanding loan balance peaked at $290 million in April 2012.
The changes to the UI system, mandated by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and adopted in the 2011 state budget, were phased in over three years, with the goal to ease the UI tax burden on Rhode Island’s more than 32,000 businesses and put the UI trust fund on more stable footing.
While Rhode Island businesses pay for UI benefits, Rhode Island employees themselves pay for temporary disability insurance, which protects workers against wage loss due to a non-work-related illness or injury.
The maximum weekly TDI benefit rate will increase $18 in fiscal year 2015 to $770 per week compared with the fiscal 2014 rate of $752 per week. The rate for beneficiaries with the maximum five dependents will increase to $1,039 per week from $1,015 per week.
Under state law, the DLT must recalculate the maximum weekly benefit rates for both UI and TDI every year in July. The maximum TDI rate is set at 85 percent of the average weekly wage paid to eligible employees during the previous calendar year.