Wash. losing 26 weeks of unemployment benefits

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- One downside to the state's improving unemployment rate is that those still without a job are set to lose 26 weeks of benefits.

Because the state's rate dropped to 8.2 percent in February, officials at the state Employment Security Department say that means the maximum weeks of unemployment benefits will drop from 99 to 73 for most eligible workers after April 21. Long-term-benefits programs are funded by the federal government, and triggered by states' unemployment rates.

Those who are still unemployed and claiming long-term benefits will soon be receiving notices from the department informing them of the change.

Officials estimate that approximately 12,500 unemployed workers will lose benefits immediately when extended benefits end on April 21. More than 11,000 workers will exhaust their emergency benefits within eight weeks after April 21.