State's trust fund strong despite high unemployment - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

State's trust fund strong despite high unemployment

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By Cade Fowler - bio | email

September 29, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It's tough times for thousands of Georgians who are out of work. Manufacturing, construction, and service jobs were hit hard again last month. It's a problem shared with states across the country. But along with record high unemployment rates, some states are now running out of unemployment benefit funds.

"Part of it is just a very tough economy right now. When you have millions of Americans who are receiving unemployment insurance benefits, the trust fund balance is a finite resource. When you have record unemployment, that puts tremendous stress on the state's funds across this country," says Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond.

States with record unemployment figures such as New York, Michigan and California are facing shortages in their unemployment insurance funds. And some are now forced to turn to the federal government for help. As of August, more than 80,000 Georgians were drawing benefits from the state, but luckily, the trust fund here is strong.

"We are one of 18 states that have a solvent trust fund -- despite the fact that we have record amounts of unemployment. When people get back to work quicker, we've been able to protect our trust fund balance," says Thurmond.

As of March, the average length of unemployment in Georgia is 11.3 weeks -- almost a month under the national average of 15.2 weeks. And with an unemployment insurance trust fund of over $1.2 billion, the 10th strongest in the nation, jobless Georgians have one less issue to worry about.

"The reason we have a solvent trust fund, one of the strongest in America. is that we all lead the nation in getting people back to work quicker," said Thurmond.

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