In an effort to replenish the Texas unemployment insurance fund, the Texas Workforce Commission has announced that next year two-thirds of Texas businesses will pay nearly three times the unemployment benefits tax they paid this year.
Businesses that pay the minimum state unemployment tax will owe nearly $65 per worker in 2010, up from about $23 this year. Under Texas' unemployment insurance system, the minimum tax is paid by nearly 255,000 employers, or 67 percent of those who've been operating for at least a year. Many are small, and most have laid off few, if any, employees.
But many employers and employer advocates don't want to pay more unemployment tax, highlighting the fact that Texas has fewer workers who actually qualify for unemployment insurance benefits once they suffer a job loss compared to other states. Only about 34 percent of Texas employees qualify for unemployment insurance after a job loss. That low percentage puts Texas at the bottom of the list and many unemployed Texans have felt the sting of failing to receive unemployment insurance benefits. Unemployment insurance benefits are a safety net that has saved (at least temporarily) many Texans from foreclosure.
Without unemployment insurance benefits many Texans would not only face foreclosure; but would also need to file bankruptcy protection because they would be unable to pay any of their bills. For years the savings rate in America has been extremely low and ironically that was part of the reason the economy was booming. Unfortunately for the average Joe and Jane, low savings could mean financial disaster after a job loss. If we plan to stop this recession we need to seriously consider expanding the eligibility requirements of unemployment insurance so that more Texas workers can qualify and benefit from this safety net.
For Texas workers who are waiting to hear if they qualify for unemployment insurance, please take the time to find out if you should file bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can discharge many debts, giving you more income that can be used to get you back on your feet. We all know that unemployment insurance only pays a fraction of what you previously earned and it is taxed, leaving you with less money. Even if you don't file bankruptcy, being aware of your options will give you the peace of mind you need to make it through these hard times.