Unemployment benefits extended up to 13 weeks

Up to 13 weeks of extended benefits will be available beginning Nov. 5 to eligible workers receiving unemployment insurance benefits, state labor officials said on Oct. 24.

The decision was triggered by Alaska’s current unemployment rate of 7.2 percent, which dictates when extended benefits become available. The U.S. Department of Labor has determined that the state’s current unemployment rate merits the additional benefits, said Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development Heidi Drygas.

Funding for extended benefit payments is split equally between the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund and the federal government.

The Alaska Division of Employment and Training Services, which administers the unemployment insurance program, will notify potentially eligible workers by mail. Individuals with remaining balances of regular unemployment insurance will continue to draw out their benefits until exhaustion. Upon exhaustion, workers will be able to submit an application for extended benefits to be eligible for continued payment.

The last time Alaskans were eligible for extended benefits was in 2013. Prior to that, the triggering of extended benefits occurred annually since 1995, with the exception of 2006, generally due to higher unemployment rates in Alaska compared to national averages.

Individuals who wish to apply for extended benefits may call toll free to 1-888-252-2557 to speak to the unemployment insurance claim center.