2,600 in county to lose jobless benefits

About 25,000 people in Washington — and more than 2,600 in Snohomish County — are expected to lose long-term unemployment benefits by Dec. 28, the state Employment Security Department announced Thursday.

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program extends unemployment benefits for people who have been jobless 26 weeks or longer. Congress created the program in July 2008 and has extended it 11 times since.

A new federal budget deal announced this week by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., scraps the program. The state said there’s no indication the benefits will be reauthorized.

People in Washington can qualify for up to 63 weeks of unemployment benefits with the federal program. That includes 26 weeks of regular benefits and 37 weeks of benefits under the emergency program.

For the past five years, the program has paid about $6.3 billion in federally funded unemployment benefits to more than 452,000 jobless workers in the state.

The unemployment rate has declined since the recession ended, but Washington still had an unemployment rate of 7 percent in October, the most recent month measured.

After the Murray-Ryan budget deal was announced, the Employment Security Department released a spreadsheet outlining the number of people in each county who will lose their benefits at the end of this month. King County has the most affected unemployed workers with 6,554, followed by Pierce County with 3,279 and then Snohomish County.

Island County has 194 people who would lose the long-term benefits. Nationally, an estimated 1.3 million people will lose unemployment benefits.

If Congress and the president approve another extension, the Employment Security Department will automatically notify eligible individuals.

The state is using email, robocalls and direct mail to alert people the federal program is ending.

The messages also will urge the jobless to contact their local WorkSource office for assistance in finding work.

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