Unemployed Virgin Islanders who have or soon will exhaust unemployment benefits will get a lifeline of six more weeks of checks, triggered by persistent high unemployment across the territory, according to the V.I. Labor Department.
Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan Jr. announced Tuesday the territory has triggered Tier 4 of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Benefits, which allows the additional six weeks of benefits to claimants. Thursday Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance will be mailing out Tier 4 EUC forms to claimants who have exhausted all of their Tier 3 benefits, according to a statement from Labor.
“This is the first time that the Virgin Islands have triggered on to Tier 4 within the past 10 years," Bryan said in the statement. "The silver lining to the cloud of summer layoffs is that the vast majority of workers employed by Marriott Frenchman’s Reef, Triangle and Wyatt have returned to work. The initial layoffs and claims boosted our unemployment rate just enough so that less-fortunate job seekers now have the benefit of Tier 4 monies for an additional six weeks of job hunting,” Bryan said.
The V.I. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the V.I. unemployment rate is currently 9.4 percent, well above the 8.5 percent three-month average needed to trigger the Tier 4 benefits. The territory hit the statutory trigger as of Oct. 23, according to Labor.
As the additional benefits take effect, unemployed residents will continue to receive reemployment and workforce development services to prepare them for returning to work and potentially better job opportunities. Each week, the department will feature 25 “hot jobs” per district on the department’s website (www.vidol.gov) and resource rooms, according to the department.
Those who have already exhausted Tier 3 benefits will receive an application in the mail within the next week and can submit it to determine their continued eligibility, according to the Labor Department.
Claimants can submit their completed Tier 4 applications via email to: Tier4stx@vidol.gov on St. Croix or Tier4stt@vidol.gov on St. Thomas/St. John.
Those currently collecting unemployment under Tier 3 will be automatically continued under Tier 4 after their unemployment and other eligibility requirements are certified.
Do not apply if you have already gone back to work, Labor advises. Those who knowingly, falsely claim to be unemployed are committing a federal offense, punishable by a fine or imprisonment for no more than five years, or both, according to the Labor Department.
Contact the Labor Department on St. Croix at (340) 773-1440 or St. Thomas at (340) 776-3700 for more information.