Federal Workers File for Unemployment During Shutdown
The state is seeing an increase in unemployment benefit claims as thousands of federal workers in Alaska wait on Congress to re-open the government.
According to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the number of federal unemployment claims saw a big jump last week. More than 1,000 federal claims were filed, said operations manager of the Anchorage Unemployment Insurance Call Center, Jack Yandell.
"Normally we see some federal claims come through because we see a seasonal layoff at this time, but we've been keeping very busy with the federal shutdown," Yandell said.
Private contractors who rely on federal spending are also filing for unemployment, he added. According to the state labor department, depending on how long the shutdown continues, the state would pay furloughed federal workers from the unemployment insurance fund and then bill the federal government for reimbursement. However, some furloughed workers say the unemployment process is not worth it if Congress passes a bill that would grant furloughed federal employees retroactive pay after the shutdown ends.
"It just doesn't seem like it would necessarily be worth it, to go through the whole process of getting it," said Yolanda Tankersley, a furloughed federal worker.
"We don't know the details on how that would work out until we get further down the road but in most cases in our history and our experience, that's how it works. They are liable for those dollars that they receive retroactivepay for those days," Yandell said.
The bill that would grant back pay cleared the House over the weekend but the Senate has not taken any action on it.
Tankersley's family has larger concerns as well-- with the federal debt limit deadline fast-approaching, she and her husband are concerned about his VA and military benefits.
"We've been doing a lot of research trying to figure out if we are going to receive that next month, and we're not sure."
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