OLYMPIA — Washington state officials say federal automatic budget cuts will lower an unemployment benefits program for residents.
The Employment Security Department announced Wednesday that beginning May 19 "emergency unemployment compensation" will be reduced by 21.08 percent under the so-called sequester. Emergency unemployment compensation is a federally funded program that is available for people who run out of state-funded benefits.
In Washington, state-funded unemployment runs for 26 weeks. Unemployed workers can receive up to 37 weeks of assistance divided into three tiers under the emergency unemployment compensation program.
For example, people receiving the current minimum weekly of $143 will be reduced to $112 as they enter another tier.
The department says about 40,000 Washingtonians are nearing the end of their state-funded unemployment benefits or already receive the federal-backed assistance.
In Whatcom County, 950 residents initially will be affected by this cut, said Sheryl Hutchison, communications director for the state Employment Security Department. It's estimated that Washington state will receive $30 million less in these benefits from the federal government between May and the end of 2013 as a result of the sequester.
Bellingham Herald Business Editor Dave Gallagher contributed to this story.