Patrick Doubts State Can Afford UI Rate Freeze

Jan 13, 2011Boston Business Journal, Council in the News

By George Donnelly
Boston Business Journal

Gov. Deval Patrick expressed doubts that the state could afford to freeze the current unemployment insurance rates, which are scheduled to rise by 40 percent early this year. The State House New Service reported today that Patrick said “it’s a serious question whether we can afford to freeze those rates.”

Business groups, including the Associated Industries of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts High Technology Council, have called for a freezing of the rates, already among the highest in the country. Efforts to cut back on the benefit levels for unemployment have been unsuccessful. Massachusetts is considered one of the most generous provider of unemployment benefits, both in terms of eligibility and duration of payment — 30 weeks.

Employers face a $259 per employee hit, on average, under a scheduled increase, which would raise the assessment to $897 per employee, according to the State House News Service. Without an increase, there is a projected $200 million deficit in the unemployment insurance fund.

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