NEW YORK—Despite the high cost of living in New York City, New York state ranks 25th in unemployment benefits in the country, according to the latest study by Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Queens).
“At a time when New Yorkers are struggling, we need to do everything possible to help them stay above water,” said Gioia in a news release. “New York is long overdue for an increase in unemployment benefits. It’s easy to see that more needs to be done for unemployed New Yorkers when states where the cost of living is a fraction of New York City’s are receiving more in unemployment benefits.”
The New York State Department of Labor announced on August 20 that the city’s unemployment rate escalated above the national average. At 9.6 percent—an increase of 0.2 percent from June—the city reached its highest percentage since 1997, although the nation’s rate dropped from 9.5 percent in June to 9.4 percent in July.
With more than 400,000 unemployed New Yorkers in July, the number reached its highest in over three decades.
Gioia, who is chairman of the Council Committee on Oversight and Investigations, called for the State legislature to pass a bill to increase unemployment benefits once they return to session in the fall.
New Yorkers have not received an increase in unemployment benefits for the past decade, although price of milk has gone up by 35 percent and apples have increased by 47 percent since 1998.
New York State has the seventh highest cost of living among all states, but the maximum amount for New Yorkers is $405 per week, less than neighboring states such as New Jersey at $584 and Connecticut at $576.
Other states where unemployment benefits surpass New York’s include Kansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas and New Mexico. Rhode Island holds the highest weekly benefits at $641.
Currently, the federal stimulus bill has raised the maximum weekly amount to $430, which will be in effect until the end of the year.