In Connecticut, the average number of workers filing for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits since 2007 has grown from 40,000 to approximately 130,000. In 2009 and 2010, UI benefit payouts greatly exceeded UI tax revenues. In 2011, UI benefit payouts will continue to exceed tax revenues by a substantial margin.
Funding Imbalance Has Led to Insolvency
Because of this funding imbalance, Connecticut’s Unemployment Trust Fund became insolvent on October 13, 2009.
Connecticut Borrowed from the US Department of Labor
In order to continue paying UI benefits to unemployed workers, as required by law, Connecticut began borrowing funds from the US Department of Labor (DOL). To date, Connecticut has borrowed approximately $650 million and the Labor Department projects that total borrowing could approach $1 billion over the next two to three years.
ARRA Waived Interest Through 2010
Generally, federal loans carry interest, but the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) contains a provision waiving interest on UI trust fund loans through 2010. Connecticut will still have substantial loan balances outstanding in 2011 and beyond. Under federal law, employers are required to pay interest to the federal government beginning in 2011.
Interest Collected Through Special Assessments
Under Connecticut law, interest payments from employers are collected through annual Special Assessments, excluding those entities that reimburse the state dollar-for-dollar for the costs of benefits paid to former employees. The first annual Special Assessment date for Connecticut employers is August 1, 2011 with the payment due by August 31, 2011.
Special Assessment Estimated at $40 Million
Connecticut’s total Special Assessment for 2011 is estimated to be approximately $40 million. Based on this estimate, the average cost per employee will be roughly $40. For example, a business that employs ten workers can expect a Special Assessment bill of approximately $400 in August 2011. The 2011 Special Assessment figures are estimates and, therefore, subject to change based on variables such as the actual amounts borrowed and the total number of active employers as of August 2011.
FUTA Tax Rate Expected to increase for 2011
In addition to interest costs, Connecticut and other states with federal loans outstanding for two consecutive years must make additional payments into the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) system to pay down the loan principal. Therefore, the effective FUTA tax rate for calendar year 2011, payable in January 2012, will increase from 0.8% to 1.1%.
Additional FUTA Tax to Be Applied To Loan Principal
The additional FUTA tax collected, approximately $21 per employee, will be applied to the state’s outstanding loan balance – thereby reducing the loan principal.
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