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Will New York make small businesses pay larger unemployment insurance fees to compensate for pandemic losses?

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  • Staff Report 

Small business organizations and the New York Farm Bureau are calling for relief from the cost of interest on unemployment insurance payments, ahead of Governor Kathy Hochul’s presentation of the spending plan on Wednesday.

The additional surcharge was imposed to help pay down New York’s unemployment insurance debt to the federal government, which sharply increased due to joblessness during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.


On Monday, Republicans in the state Senate urged Hochul to consider using a portion of New York’s $10 billion discretionary funds to offset the monthly unemployment insurance payments for small employers and to reduce overhead costs for small businesses. They also proposed a fixed contribution for employers to the unemployment insurance fund.

New York owes billions of dollars in unemployment insurance debt to the federal government, and employers pay a per-employee interest surcharge each month to help pay it down. The calls for relief grew louder after an audit found that scammers made off with $11 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims during the early phase of the pandemic.

The proposal comes amid deepening concerns about the economy, as employment has partially rebounded but higher interest rates and inflation have affected both consumers and businesses.