Federal extended unemployment benefits being cut 10.7 percent in Georgia and Alabama starting March 31

The federal budget cuts known as sequestration will ripple down to those receiving extended unemployment compensation nationwide, including in Georgia and Alabama.

Both of those state’s labor departments say they have been ordered to reduce unemployment checks by 10.7 percent starting the week of March 31.

“Anyone receiving state unemployment benefits will not be immediately affected,” said Sam Hall, communications director with the Georgia Department of Labor. “The only time they would be affected by these cuts to the federal EUC would be if they exhaust their state benefits and then qualify to move into the federal extended benefits.”

There are currently 61,360 people receiving the extended benefits in Georgia, which kick in after the state’s 19 weeks of assistance. More than 48,000 more people are getting benefits from the state and have yet to move into the federal extended category.

Benefits range from person to person, with some qualifying for the maximum number of weeks and the maximum monetary amount based on their work history and pay.

In Georgia, the maximum weekly benefit is $330; the average weekly benefit is $260. The 10.7 percent cut would amount to $35.31 per week for those receiving the maximum assistance, and $27.83 per week for those taking home the average.

In Alabama, the maximum weekly jobless benefit is $265, although the state assistance lasts for up to 26 weeks, instead of 19. Those already on the federal extended compensation and receiving the maximum amount would see a cut of $28.35 per week in their unemployment check.

Alabama currently has 16,957 people receiving extended benefits, said Alabama Department of Labor spokesman Will Whatley. Another 26,629 individuals are on the state program and yet to move into the federal category.

Georgia also noted a federal grant funding the administration of the unemployment insurance program in the state also has been tagged for $3 million in cuts. Hall said it’s too early to gauge the impact of that budget reduction.

“It certainly will have an impact,” he said. “But we will try to deal with it in a way that the customer is affected in the least manner possible. And we’ll just adapt to do our job the best we can with the resources that we have available. Our ultimate job is to serve the public and that’s what we’re going to do.”