40,000 on extended unemployment: Blame feds for smaller check

OLYMPIA -- Blame the federal sequester.  The state’s Employment Security Department is preparing to reduce emergency unemployment compensation benefits by more than 20 percent because of federal belt-tightening.

Emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) is a federally funded program that provides additional weeks of unemployment benefits to workers who run out of regular, state-funded benefits. In Washington, regular unemployment benefits last up to 26 weeks, then workers can receive up to 37 weeks of EUC.

Beginning May 19th, EUC recipients will see their weekly benefits reduced when they move from regular benefits onto EUC, or when they move from their current tier of EUC to the next tier.

The maximum weekly benefit is $604 for claims opened since July 2012.

About 40,000 people in Washington are now receiving EUC or nearing the end of their regular unemployment benefits. Employment Security is using direct mail, email and robocalls to inform them about the impending change.