When it comes to unemployment insurance, every state in the US handles it differently (including Alaska and Hawaii). While the scenery, terrain, and wildlife are absolutely stunning in the 49th state, temperatures can be harsh in the wintertime, and most areas are fairly remote.
A few years ago a rumor went around that Alaska actually pays you to live there. That is indeed true- established in 1980, the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Division offers residents a yearly reimbursement check for allowing the Trans-Alaska Pipeline to pump oil through the state (although much documentation is needed to prove your residency and the government is extremely vigilant in looking for potential fraud).
Alaska also takes pride in paying out unemployment benefits to its workers in a timely and accurate manner to help stabilize its local economies, which is important considering many jobs are seasonal and located in urban, rural areas. Here is some more information about how unemployment insurance (UI) varies from state to state and specifically how Alaska unemployment insurance works:
Why UI is Different in Every State
State governments are funded by its resident companies and businesses that pay an employment tax, and then they decide what kind of UI benefits are then dispersed. Since every state operates its budget differently, their UI follows suit. A handful of states provide generous benefits that can provide unemployed workers with up to $1019 in reimbursements, but most average a payout of $300-$500 a pay period. To find specific information on UI from state-to-state, check out the Unemployment Insurance US map.
The Big State-to-State UI Differences
All states usually release their unemployment rate, the maximum number of weeks one can receive benefits (it’s usually 26 weeks), and what that maximum amount per week is. A few states even offer a maximum allowance for dependents that can be claimed.
According to fileunemployment.org, it seems like the lower the unemployment rate, the higher the benefits. Colorado currently has a 2.9 percent unemployment rate and dishes out $529 in weekly benefits whereas Louisiana has a 5.9 percent unemployment rate and pays up to $221 a week to unemployed members.
In January 2017, the National Conference of State Legislature released that unemployment rates have dropped significantly in five states since 2016, especially in Alaska and Wyoming. At the beginning of the year, the national average unemployment rate was 4.8 percent, and Alaska was at 6.5 percent. As of January 2017, there were 23,417 unemployed persons which is a lesser number than how many people were unemployed in January 2010.
How the Unemployment Rate Relates to Alaska Unemployment Insurance
The UI system was created to provide people who’ve suddenly or involuntarily lost their jobs a means of support until they find their next employment and it was also designed to reward employers who minimize their staff turnover. An employer’s actions and how they manage their business directly affects their unemployment tax rate, so a business having proper procedures and labor relations in place is very important.
As of October 2016, Alaska has held a UI tax rate of 1-5.4 and pays a minimum of 16 weeks to a maximum of 26 weeks in unemployment benefits. The weekly benefit rate is $56-$442 depending on the situation. Alaska is one of the few states that pays an unemployment rate for dependents as well.
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development encourages its residents who have become unemployed or who have dropped to a less-than-full-time status to apply for UI benefits ASAP. Once a claim is filed, the Department determines a person’s eligibility. The Department also offers grant funds to help unemployed people transition into a new career. The state also helps employers by providing a number of hiring incentives with on-the-job training assistance, veteran tax credits, and employee wage reimbursement.
Utilize Unemployment Tracker’s interactive map to locate and browse unemployment information on a state by state basis. By clicking on Alaska, for instance, you can learn specific details about the state and its UI rates and details.