The Massachusetts Senate has approved a bill that would make changes in unemployment insurance that supporters say will lower costs for businesses.


The measure passed 33-4 Thursday. It continues a freeze on unemployment insurance rates through 2017. It includes an updated rating table and expands an exemption for seasonal businesses.


Senate President Therese Murray said the bill will provide financial predictability, reward positive employment histories with lower costs and foster a healthy economy.



Business groups want to lower the duration of unemployment benefits from 30 weeks to 26 weeks. They also want to require that workers be employed for at least 20 weeks, up from the current 15 weeks, before they are eligible for benefits