The state House budget committee on Thursday approved an unemployment insurance rate freeze bill that aides say would hit employers with per-employee average increase of $110 per year but spare businesses from a rate schedule with even higher rates. More Massachusetts residents have been relying on the fund during the recession for cash benefits and the fund will need years of federal loans to keep benefits flowing.
Unemployment in Massachusetts hit 9.4 percent in December. Patrick administration officials said last year they were considering a rate relief plan but no proposal has been filed and steep unemployment insurance rate hikes are scheduled to trigger in the spring, unless legislators and Patrick agree to a new schedule.
"Freezing the rate is an appropriate step at least based on the numbers that I've seen," John Regan of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, an employer trade group, told the Statehouse News Service on Thursday morning. "We'd clearly like to see systemic reform as well, not that we're ungrateful for the step that's being taken." The House gave the bill initial approval Thursday morning and it could receive further attention in the afternoon.
The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce will keep you informed on this topic. If you have any questions, call 413-499-4000.