One of the significant issues in this year’s New York State budget negotiations will be a precedent-setting Unemployment Bridge Program which, if passed, will provide unemployment benefits to many New Yorkers who are not covered by the existing unemployment insurance system.
The legislation will see a rollout by the Fund Excluded Workers Campaign in New York City on January 11, with subsequent events in Westchester, Long Island, the Capital Region, Syracuse, and Kingston over the following seven days.
Unemployment insurance benefits provide temporary financial assistance to workers unemployed through no fault of their own that meet New York’s eligibility requirements.
In a new analysis released on January 5, Immigration Research Initiative estimates that the Unemployment Bridge Program would provide a degree of security to 750,000 people who are currently not under the safety net of unemployment insurance. New York City-based IRI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank on immigrant integration, looking at issues of economic, social, and cultural inclusion of immigrants in the United States.
“IRI estimates that the program would pay a monthly benefit of $1,200, on par with what others get in unemployment insurance, to 30,000 newly covered individuals who are unemployed at any given moment,” the think tank said in the news release.
The program cost is estimated at $500 million. This includes $75 million for implementation costs, building on the successful implementation of the Excluded Workers Fund in 2021
“During the pandemic, the federal government temporarily fixed a gap in the unemployment system, and New York State went even further to create a groundbreaking Excluded Workers Fund that made it possible for immigrants who are undocumented to get something like the same coverage as other New Yorkers,” said IRI director David Dyssegaard Kallick in a statement.
“The Unemployment Bridge Program would learn from these temporary fixes to create the most comprehensive protections against unemployment in the country,” he said, adding it would provide a safety net for many New Yorkers who are currently not able to get unemployment insurance.
According to Kallick, in 2022, Colorado created the first state unemployment gap program to cover immigrants who are undocumented on a permanent basis. “The New York bill would go even further, so that in addition to undocumented immigrants the benefit would be accessible to others who are not able to access unemployment insurance, from street vendors to freelance writers, domestic workers, people who are re-entering the labor force after being incarcerated and more,” he added.
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