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Legislation increasing maximum weekly unemployment benefit clears House committee

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Delaware Public Media
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A bill that would increase the maximum weekly unemployment benefit in Delaware is released from the House Labor Committee.

The proposal – House Bill 49 – would raise the maximum weekly unemployment from $400 to $450, and the funds necessary to pay the increased benefits would be paid from the Unemployment Trust.

At the current $400 maximum, Delaware pays unemployment claimants less per week in benefits than neighboring states, and Delaware hasn’t changed the maximum weekly benefit since 2019.

As part of the bill, the state would offer Delaware employers an unemployment tax relief for one-year during the calendar year 2023.

Because that relief would reduce the tax obligation of employers by an estimated $50 million this year, House Labor Committee Chairman, State Rep. Ed Osienski says this bill needs to pass both chambers and be signed by Gov. John Carney by the end of January before the break for budget hearings.

"We want to make sure the employers are getting the tax assessment decrease, retroactive by January 1st of 2023,” said Osienski. “So we want to get this done, it's time sensitive."

The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce opposes the measure. Its director of public policy and government relations Tyler Micik explains why.

"Businesses large and small across every industry are struggling to find and attract talent. This bill can only exacerbate that problem. Instead of supporting policies that increase unemployment benefits we should be supporting policies and initiatives that attract individuals back into the workforce," said Micik.

The legislation cleared the committee by an 8-0 vote, and it now heads to the full House.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.