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Another View -- Jeff Goley and Will Infantine: Time for an increase in weekly benefits for NH unemployed

IT’S time for an increase in weekly benefits for New Hampshire’s unemployed.

In our communities throughout this great state, we are seeing the effects of recovery from the recent recession. Unemployment continues to decline as men and women find opportunities to earn the paychecks that support their families. In fact, unemployment in New Hampshire just reached its lowest point since November 2008.

The state’s Unemployment Trust Fund is healthy, with a projected balance of more than $275 million for the end of 2014. As a result, New Hampshire businesses are expected to receive a full 1 percent tax rate reduction to be triggered in the fourth quarter of 2014. The increased benefits, $3 to $25 more per week, would not begin to be available until January of 2015.

The strength of the trust fund would not be significantly affected by this increase in benefits, which amounts to about $4.8 million in additional benefits paid out annually. Compare that to the $106 million in projected savings from reductions of employment taxes because of the already removed emergency surcharges and reduction triggers expected to be hit in the coming months.

The modest benefit increase will help New Hampshire workers. It will ensure that their families can continue to afford food, shelter and other essentials. The recipients of these benefits are more likely to stay connected to the workforce, expediting their return to employment.

Unemployment benefits ensure hard working men and women stay employable and stay here in New Hampshire, reducing the likelihood that they fall into debt, and providing them a greater opportunity to succeed here in New Hampshire when a suitable job does become available.

We urge our colleagues to support this modest increase in unemployment benefits, it is a balanced approach to address cost of living changes for hard working Granite Staters. Please call your senators and urge them to vote yes on HB 1499.

Rep. Jeff Goley is a Manchester Democrat. Rep. Will Infantine is a Manchester Republican.

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