Alabama Senate passes bill reducing time for receiving unemployment benefits

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. ( — The Alabama Senate Thursday passed a bill that would reduce the amount of time people can receive unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to a range of 14 to 20 weeks depending on the unemployment rate.

It would also increase the maximum weekly benefit from $265 to $275.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said other southeastern states have adopted similar plans, moving away from what was once a standard 26-week period.

"Some people will take the full 26 weeks and not look for a job until that 26 weeks is about to run out," Orr said. "This, hopefully, will encourage them to perhaps look a little bit earlier."

Orr's bill includes a sliding scale tying the duration of unemployment benefits to the unemployment rate. It sets the duration at 14 weeks if the rate is 6.5 percent or lower, and would add one week for each 0.5 percentage point increase in the rate. The maximum duration of 20 weeks applies if the rate is 9 percent or more.

Orr said only about 5 percent or 10 percent receive unemployment for the full 26 weeks available now.

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