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Unemployment benefits available to furloughed workers; requires repayment

Governor Jay Inslee and Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine announced an emergency rule allowing federal workers working without pay to receive unemployment benefits.

In a release to his Medium page, Gov. Inslee said that Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) is expanding unemployment benefits to federal workers who were deemed “essential” and were directed to work full-time without pay since the partial shutdown began.

The employees include Coast Guard personnel, TSA agents, border patrol agents, food safety inspectors, FBI agents, and many others.

In Grays Harbor, there are approximately 21 federal employees impacted by the shutdown. This equated to an estimated $ 26,770 weekly total wages for the county.

In Pacific County, 14 employees are shown working without 17,463 in pay a week.

If spread to quarterly wages, that would be 2052677 in Grays Harbor and 649744 in Pacific.

Inslee says, “There are nearly 16,000 Washingtonians who are about to lose a second paycheck because of this record-long federal shutdown,” adding, “Thousands of those Washington-based federal workers are being told they must work anyway, and therefore have no option but to hope this shutdown ends. It is wholly unacceptable, and Washington state will not stand by while our public servants work day after day while struggling to make ends meet. We have got to prioritize people over politics and end this shutdown.

Since the partial shutdown began, only those federal workers who were furloughed and not working were eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits. Inslee said this is an inexcusable situation that state leaders should not accept.

Authorities say the workers would be required to pay back state benefits once they receive back pay when the shutdown ends.

Workers can learn how to apply here: https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment-benefits-related-to-partial-federal-shutdown#NEW

The Employment Security Department has posted data about the estimated number of workers impacted by county, including estimates of lost wages by week.

The agency also has data from the National Association of State Workforce Agenciesshowing the estimated number of employees by affected federal agency in Washington.

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