Unemployment trust fund down but still solvent

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The fund that finances unemployment benefits in West Virginia has dropped about $14 million in the last year but state lawmakers were told Wednesday the fund remains stable.

Russell Fry, acting executive director of WorkForce West Virginia, told members of the Joint Committee on Government and Finance the state Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund was at about $133 million this time last year but it would likely be closer to $121 million at the end of Oct.

“We’re worse than we were a year ago but better than we were 2 years ago,” Fry said.

The trust fund ended 2010 at $76 million coming off the recession.

West Virginia, unlike many other states, has been able to keep its trust fund solvent. Many states had to borrow money during the recession to cover unemployment and that’s now being paid back with a special fee.

The trust fund hit a low mark this year of $61 million back in March but the balance had grown to $135 million by August.

Fry told lawmakers the trust fund balance relies on two factors.

“How many individuals are actually working and paying into the trust fund is just as important as how many are drawing from the trust fund,” he said.

The latest unemployment rate in West Virginia was at 6.2 percent.


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