This week, jobless people in Idaho will start to see a major transition in its unemployment system. Idaho is phasing out paper unemployment checks and phasing in a system that puts benefits on debit cards. It becomes the second Northwest state to do so.
About one-third of Idaho's 44,000 unemployed people already have their weekly benefits put into some sort of electronic account. Now, Labor Department spokesman Bob Fick says Idaho's moving the other two-thirds that still receive paper checks to the state-issued debit cards.
Bob Fick: “I think it's probably a lot more convenient and reliable for the claimants and the process is more efficient and cheaper by postage and check writing costs; about 130-thousand dollars a year.”
Fick says it's also a safer system.
Bob Fick: “The claimants no longer have to worry about checks being lost or stolen in the mail.”
On Wednesday, the transition will begin for the unemployed in Boise. The rest of the state will be phased in in June. Oregon also uses debit cards for unemployment benefits. Washington still issues paper checks.
[I'm Doug Nadvornick reporting.]
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