Senator Dan Wolf
Massachusetts Cape & Islands District
Senator Wolf argues to freeze Unemployment Insurance rates to promote job creation

BOSTON -- Tackling the first major legislative issue of his first term in office, Cape & Islands Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich) today called for a freeze on Unemployment Insurance rates for the coming year, to save thousands of jobs that might be lost if rates are allowed to skyrocket.

 “This clearly is a jobs protection bill,” argued Wolf, who as the new Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development took a lead role in calling for the freeze. If rates are allowed to increase by as much as 40 percent, as called for by present regulations, the average employer would see the per-employee annual payment jump from $644 to $872. Approximately $402 million would need to be detoured into insurance payments.

The bill passed in the Senate, and also has won initial indications of support from House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

Wolf stood on the Senate floor and in his first speech as a Senator urged fellow legislators to remember that economic recovery must focus on job creation and retention. “The $402 million that this freeze will leave in this community is the beginning of that work,” he added.

The Senate bill would hold steady the current rate schedule for Unemployment Insurance assessments on employers for calendar year 2011. In previous recessions the state has frozen the assessment schedule to relieve the burden on small businesses in tough economic times.  Even with frozen rates, because of the increased number of claims filed, employers will see the average per-employee payment rise from $644 to $705, a 9.2 percent increase.

 “This effort will help give our businesses some additional breathing room as they work to overcome this challenging economic environment,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “We need to continue to foster environments where jobs can grow and be created.  This is another step on the part of the Senate to do just that.”