ALBANY — While the state’s unemployment rate decreased from 8.9 percent to 8.2 percent between December 2009 and December 2010, there are still roughly 793,000 unemployed New Yorkers.
Depending on when they became unemployed and filed for benefits, people on unemployment in New York could receive up to 93 weeks of benefits, or 99 weeks if they started receiving benefits when the state’s unemployment rate was higher.
Congress has added several tiers of benefits to the base of 26 weeks because of the poor economy. Federal lawmakers passed a 13-month extension of benefits in December that allows unemployed workers through the end of this year to finish whatever tier they’re in and move into the next one, said Nancy Dunphy, state deputy labor commissioner for employment security.
It can be complicated for people who are unemployed to figure out what they are entitled to, so the Labor Department has a benefits calculator on its website — www.labor.ny.gov. The maximum weekly benefit is $405.
According to the calculator, laid-off workers whose original claims took effect between Nov. 15, 2010, and Feb. 7 would be eligible for 26 weeks of regular unemployment, 20 weeks of Tier 1 Emergency Unemployment Compensation and 14 weeks of Tier 2 compensation.
Brian Sugalski of Horseheads, Chemung County, has been unemployed since May 2010. His first 26 weeks were up in December, and he is on his first extension — 20 weeks. He and his wife and their 4-year-old disabled son moved to her mother’s house in Horseheads after losing their home in New Jersey to bankruptcy.
Sugalski, who receives his unemployment checks from New Jersey, said he attended workshops and got resumes prepared before moving to New York. He has worked in the printing business since he was a teenager. That is his preferred profession, but he’s not limiting his search to that field.
Sugalski, 39, said he has only gotten a few interviews, and some companies have told him they received 500, 600 or 700 resumes for a position.
Keeping his morale up is challenging, “but I’m pretty confident something will come along,” he said.
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