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September 9, 2005 8:34 AM CDT

Department of Labor announces $30.8 million to help states distribute unemployment insurance following hurricane Katrina


U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao yesterday announced grants totaling $30.8 million to Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas to expand their capacity to process claims and expedite unemployment insurance payments for those left unemployed as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

"Recovery starts with getting some form of replacement income into workers' pockets," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "This nearly $31 million in grants will help Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas expedite unemployment insurance payments through mobile field units, hiring temporary staff, increasing Internet and telephone claims processing and rebuilding damaged facilities."

State unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) are major sources of funds for workers who have lost their jobs due to a disaster. The four grants announced today will bolster the systems providing financial help to victims of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

"Each of these states is playing an important role as federal, state and local officials work together to help thousands of victims and evacuees access funding and other basic human needs in response to the destruction the Gulf region has experienced," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco.

A grant of $1.5 million to the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations will cover the cost of facilities and temporary staff dedicated solely to handling unemployment claims related to the hurricane. Alabama's unemployment claims call centers are handling claims from both Alabamans and those who have evacuated to the state from Louisiana and Mississippi.

A $15.7 million grant to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security will help repair or rebuild damaged facilities along the Gulf Coast. It also will support new options, including telephone and Internet, to expand capacity to accept unemployment claims; mobile field units with personal computer and telephone capabilities, and options for electronic benefit payments. Funding will also support expanded information technology capacity to handle the increased claims expected as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

The Louisiana Department of Labor will receive $11 million for claims call centers, temporary staffing and mobile field units dispatched to centers housing evacuees, and for repair or replacement of buildings and equipment that have been damaged or destroyed.

A grant of $2.6 million is also being issued to the Texas Workforce Commission to assist the Louisiana Department of Labor in processing claims from the unprecedented number of Louisiana workers unemployed as a result of this disaster.

About the Author

The U.S. Department of Labor is charged with preparing the American workforce for new and better jobs. Find more information at


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