A growing number of states are looking to cut back on jobless benefits to minimize the increase in unemployment taxes businesses pay. State officials are concerned that these tax hikes could deter companies from hiring.
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In Florida, those laid off after Aug. 1 could receive six fewer weeks of benefits, if a bill that recently passed the state House of Representatives becomes law.
And if Florida's unemployment rate should fall to 5% or less, the jobless would receive only 12 weeks of benefits. (Currently, the unemployment rate stands at 11.9%.)
Right now, companies are scheduled to pay a minimum of $72.10 per employee, up from $25.20 last year, to help cover Florida's $2.2 billion debt to the federal unemployment trust fund.
The bill would reduce the tax hike by about $18 per employee, sending companies a message that Florida is business-friendly, said Rep. Doug Holmes, a Republican who sponsored the bill, which is now before the state Senate.
"It's a disincentive to move to the state of Florida with a new business or for a business that's here to expand if they have to pay all this money per employee," Holmes said.
Limiting benefits to 20 weeks won't affect that many people, according to Holmes. That's because the unemployed claim an average of 17.7 weeks of state benefits.