MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Many long-term unemployed Alabamians will see their benefits drop 12.8 percent on April 28.
State Labor Department spokeswoman Tara Hutchison said the reductions are the result of mandatory federal spending cuts that all states must make. The cuts will affect people who have been receiving unemployment benefits for more than six months. Currently, about 16,500 Alabamians receive the extended benefits.
The 24,000 Alabamians who have been receiving benefits for less than six months won't be affected. That's because the first 26 weeks of benefits are paid by the state, but those beyond 26 weeks are paid by the federal government. The cuts will be in effect for the weeks beginning April 28 through Sept. 30.
Keivan Deravi, an economist at Auburn University Montgomery, said the cuts are significant because unemployment benefits are a safety net for people to get the necessities of life. "Many of them don't have a savings account so if the benefits for removed, that void will be significantly felt," he told The Anniston Star.
The amount that each state is cutting back depends on when the state implements the reduction. States that cut back shortly after the mandatory reductions began had a 10.7 percent cut. Alabama is in the second wave at 12.8 percent. States that make the cuts later will see reductions of 16.8 percent or 22.2 percent. Hutchison said Alabama was in the second wave because of the time it took to implement the changes, including computer programming.
"We did it as fast as we could," she said.
Hutchison said the average weekly benefit in Alabama is $207 and the maximum is $265. The maximum length for benefits is 63 weeks.