Jobless Benefits

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About 8,000 people in Alabama will lose their federal unemployment benefits Saturday. But the break in assistance could be brief. The payments will resume, if Congress agrees on a way to extend the special program.

About 8,000 people in Alabama have been jobless long enough to exhaust their 26-week Alabama unemployment benefits. They have started to collect available funds from the federal program, but that lasts for only 13 weeks.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average weekly benefit in Alabama is about $163.

Federal lawmakers will return to work Jan. 7. President Bush has already announced his support for lengthening the program.