WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday laid out a plan to help support the income of workers who lose their jobs and end up in lower paying positions, as part of a push to get unemployed Americans back to work.
The proposal would offer experienced workers who now make less than $50,000 a form of wage insurance, allowing them to replace half of their lost pay. The benefit would cover up to $10,000 over two years.
“It’s a way to give families some stability and encourage folks to rejoin the workforce - because we shouldn’t just be talking about unemployment; we should be talking about re-employment,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, broadcast on Saturday.
The wage insurance proposal will be included in a broader effort to overhaul the unemployment insurance system. Details about the program’s proposed funding will be further outlined in Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2017 expected to be released next month.
Obama promised in his State of the Union earlier this week to advocate for legislative action on issues with bipartisan support during his last year in office. During the address, he pointed to wage insurance as one measure where lawmakers may be able to work together.
The White House plan would require states to provide insurance for workers laid off from jobs they had held for at least three years. The plan would be federally-funded, but it would be administered through state unemployment insurance programs.
Other measures proposed by the White House on Saturday included a requirement that all states provide at least 26 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits, and the creation of a permanent program that would automatically provide up to 52 additional weeks of federally-funded benefits for states experiencing rapid job-losses or high unemployment.