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Unemployment Insurance Hikes Hit New York Businesses

New York businesses will be paying more into the state’s unemployment insurance fund in 2020 than they did in 2021.

According to Bloomberg News, 2020 unemployment insurance tax rates ranged from 0.6% to 7.9%. This year, they will range from 2.1% to 9.9%, according to the state Labor Department website.

The state took out a $4 billion loan from the federal government for unemployment in April 2020, and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, noted the state budget includes $130 million for the unemployment program to help pay some of the interest on that loan.

“It’s my understanding that there’s a $4 billion shortfall in that fund,” Goodell said. “I heard from constituents complaining of increases in their workers compensation in the range of 350% even though they had no one laid off and covered their employees in full throughout the pandemic. Are there any funds in this bill or elsewhere to repay from that 4 billion that’s outstanding in the unemployment fund?”

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, D-Brooklyn and chairwoman of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, said the Assembly is going to have to have further discussions on how to pay back the loan because no additional money was included in the budget for unemployment.

“I do agree with the concerns that you have heard that we can’t put this all on employers,” Weinstein said. “So we’re going to have some time to figure out a better plan of how to raise the funds to provide the funds so that we don’t put the burden back employers.”

The increase in rates comes even though Gov. Andrew Cuomo had issued an executive order in January ordering unemployment insurance accounts would not be charged for benefits paid during the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor then signed legislation similar to legislation proposed by state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, last year keeping unemployment insurance experience rating changes the same throughout the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Goodell told Weinstein he has firsthand knowledge of the unemployment rate increase, having recently opened the bill for his law office.

“I look forward to working with you on that,” Goodell said. “During the pandemic I did not lay off any of my employees in my law firm and I just got my unemployment bill, 9.75% of payroll. Of course when we have huge bills for unemployment it directly affects how many people we can hire and whether we have the funds for expansion. I very much appreciate your commitment to work on looking for a solution to that issue.”

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