States have spent money they do not have to pay unemployment benefits. At the beginning of 2012 states owe the federal government roughly $46 billion that they borrowed to pay unemployment programs in recent years. This has spurred many states to reevaluate their unemployment programs. Michigan, which is $4 billion in debt to the federal government, signed a law that went into effect this year that contained the following provisions:
- Decrease the number of state paid weeks of unemployment from 26 to just 20.
Florida has followed suit and passed a law of their own regarding unemployment which stipulates the following:
- After receiving 10 weeks of benefits, candidates must take any available job that pays at least 120% of their weekly benefits regardless of how much they had been making in their previous position.
- The number of weeks of unemployment benefits received will be correlated to the unemployment rate. Higher rates result in more benefits and lower rates result in fewer benefits with a maximum of 23 weeks and a minimum of 12 weeks.
- Additionally, an initial skills assessment must be taken and, once a person starts collecting benefits, that person must submit reports that show they've either reported to a state career office or contacted at least five employers.
These moves by the states will result in a more aggressive pursuit of new jobs by those who find unemployment payments less bountiful. This will add to the upward momentum already seen in the job market.