WASHINGTON Oct 25 Federal employees furloughed
during the partial shutdown of the U.S. government this month
will have to return any jobless benefits they received given
that Congress has approved retroactive pay, the Labor Department
said on Friday.
States will have to collect and send back to the federal
government unemployment benefits granted to thousands of federal
workers after Congress deadlocked over the U.S. budget and
suspended most salaries for two weeks, according to a notice
sent to state workforce agencies from Eric Seleznow, an acting
assistant secretary at the Department of Labor.
In the first week of the Oct. 1-16 shutdown, the number of
federal workers filing for benefits rose to 70,068, 50 times the
number of filers the week before, according to the notice.
Congress had approved paying employees for the furlough days
once the budget issue was approved.
Funds to cover the benefits come directly from the federal
government, so states spent money only on administrative costs.
Because of its state law, Oregon had said federal employees
in the state might be able keep their benefits.
The notice cleared up the confusion, and now the state will
send letters to all those who received benefits requesting they
return the money, said Tom Fuller, spokesman for the state's
Almost all of the 733 people in Oregon who filed initial
claims during the shutdown, collecting a total of $389,739 in
benefits, were furloughed federal workers, said Fuller. An
additional 1,153 had filed for benefits at some point earlier in
the year, and re-opened their claims. The state must determine
what portion of those claimants were seasonal workers laid off
by the Bureau of Land Management and federal forests as fire