In a sign that the economy is starting to recover, state officials Monday did not delve into the possibility of increasing unemployment insurance taxes or shrinking jobless workers’ benefits.
Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink asked for no tweaks in the amount of taxes collected or the level of benefits paid when he sat down with state officials to discuss the balance of a fund that helps the unemployed.
“No changes,” Eysink said after meeting with the Revenue Estimating Conference, which oversees state revenue.
Businesses pay taxes into the unemployment trust fund based on the first $7,700 of an employee’s pay.
The rate they pay depends on the number of employees, claims experience and risk factors. The fund then is used to cut checks to out-of-work employees. Maximum weekly benefits are $247.
Over the years, the fund’s balance has fluctuated with the rise and fall of the state’s economy.
Last year, the state decided to charge businesses more in taxes and to lower weekly benefits.
The balance as of Aug. 31 of this year was $856 million, up from $815 million just a few months earlier.
The projection for Aug. 31, 2012, is an $847 million fund balance with an increase in tax revenue and a decrease in benefit checks tendered.
The projected balance includes:
• Collecting $287 million in taxes.
• Paying $292 million in benefits.
Eysink said the fund’s balance was higher than expected in August because tax collections came in higher than expected.
He said more people are working as the state starts to come out of the effects of the recession.
Eysink said he expects the state will pay out $75 million less in unemployment benefits in the coming year. He said the state is likely to pay out $112 million more than it did in 2008.
He characterized the state as in a slow return to normal.