Mass. Senate Backs Unemployment Insurance Freeze
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Senate has voted unanimously to freeze the state’s unemployment insurance rate for 2011, over the objections of union officials.
“We’re in a modest, tentative recovery,” said Senate Ways and Means Chairman Steven Brewer. “And I don’t think putting additional burdens on the business community at this point in time is prudent.”
Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Robert Haynes called Thursday’s vote shortsighted and doubts that businesses will use that money to create jobs. He says the unemployment trust fund is empty because rates have been frozen for too long.
“Had they not frozen it, particularly in times when the economy was good, that trust fund balance would be in good shape,” Haynes said.
Richard Lord, president of the business group Associated Industries of Massachusetts, said a sudden increase in unemployment insurance rates this year would harm the fragile economic recovery.
Without the freeze, the average employer would see a per-employee payment jump from $644 to $872, an increase of $228 per worker.
An aide to House Speaker Robert DeLeo said he believes it’s important to ease the burden on businesses. He said the House will take up the issue soon. A spokesman for Gov. Deval Patrick said he also supports the freeze.