By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming had enough money in its unemployment insurance trust fund at the beginning of the year to pay unemployment benefits for about six years, according to a study by the Tax Foundation.
The Foundation, using statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor, ranked Wyoming’s ability to pay unemployment insurance as the best in the country.
The Tax Foundation stressed that its analysis only took into account jobless claims filed through the week ending April 4.
“Unfortunately, (unemployment insurance) claims during the current crisis are dramatically higher than they were during the Great Recession,” the Tax Foundation analysis said. “Initial and continuing claims for the week ending April 4 stand at 14.38 million — 283% of averages for the three years used to calculate solvency levels.”
Nonetheless, the Foundation said based on the state’s worst three years of unemployment claims, Wyoming had enough in its trust funds to make benefit payments for 321 weeks, putting it well ahead of of second-place Florida, which the study said could make payments for 90 weeks.
In last place in the study was California, which the Foundation said only had enough in reserves to pay benefits for 26 days.
Robin Cooley, director of the state Department of Workforce Services, said during a news conference Wednesday that a national document she had reviewed showed the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund was the third healthiest in the country.
“We are working with another national organization to look at some of the modeling … in order to insure that our trust fund will be healthy through the term of this situation,” she said. “But I feel very comfortable where we started with that fund as healthy as it was.”
According to DWS statistics, the unemployment insurance trust fund ended 2019 with a balance of more than $423 million.