DOVER – The House passed legislation Wednesday that would provide Delaware residents receiving unemployment compensation a meaningful increase in weekly benefits.
Sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski, House Bill 49 would increase the maximum weekly benefit amount from $400 a week to $450 a week, payable to individuals seeking unemployment compensation benefits from the Delaware Division of Unemployment Insurance. The funds needed to pay this increase will be paid from the Unemployment Trust Fund.
“The unemployment benefit provides a vital lifeline to residents who find themselves out of work due to no fault of their own. The bills don’t stop coming in, even if the pay does, and this benefit helps keep food on the table and utilities turned on while a person searches for a new job,” said Rep. Osienski, D-Brookside. “Boosting the maximum weekly benefit will help offset the cost-of-living increases we have experienced since we last raised the benefit in 2019.”
The maximum weekly benefit amount was last increased in 2019. Prior to that, it was $330. Raising the benefit to $450 per week would bring it more closely in line with Maryland’s benefit ($430) and narrows the gap with Pennsylvania ($605).
Delaware’s weekly benefit amount (WBA) provides workers, unemployed due to no fault of their own, income replacement based on a target rate of 56%. Increasing the maximum WBA to $450 will provide workers earning up to $41,491 annually, income replacement equivalent to 56% of their weekly gross income. Workers who earn more than $41,492 will receive income replacement less than 56% of their weekly wage. Those who earn less than that amount would receive less than the maximum weekly benefit amount.
During the third quarter of 2022, the average weekly benefit amount out-of-work Delawareans received was $292.
“The pandemic took an enormous toll on Delaware’s workforce — not just on our workers, but on our state’s employers, too. House Bill 49 increases the maximum benefit amount payable to workers seeking unemployment compensation benefits without putting undue burden on the business owners supplementing these costs,” said Sen. Jack Walsh, the lead Senate sponsor. “This bill will help Delaware match the level of benefits that other states are paying for equivalent claims.”
HB 49 also would provide temporary relief to employers who pay unemployment tax assessments by reducing the new employer tax rates, reducing or holding constant overall employer tax rates, and reducing the maximum earned rate. It also would temporarily simplify the tax rate schedules that are used to calculate unemployment assessments paid by employers. The Department of Labor estimates that these unemployment tax assessment changes will reduce the tax obligation of employers by an estimated $50 million in 2023.
HB 49 now heads to the Senate for consideration.