Jobless insurance benefit to be extended

Nearly 11,000 workers in Washington — 500 in Clark County — may be eligible

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

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Nearly 11,000 jobless workers in Washington state, including 499 in Clark County, may be eligible to claim additional unemployment insurance compensation, the state Employment Security Department said Monday.

That's because the state's three-month unemployment rate average worsened in October, prompting a relaunch of federally funded emergency jobless benefits. The relaunch occurs Sunday, extending benefits for nine weeks.

Jobless workers in Washington state can now claim up to 54 weeks of unemployment benefits. They had been able to get 63 weeks of benefits until last summer, when the three-month average unemployment rate fell below 7 percent.

However, when the state's October jobless rate was factored in, the three-month average rose again to 7 percent. That led the federal Department of Labor to direct the state Employment Security Department to restart federally funded unemployment insurance.

The Employment Security Department says it's using a combination of email, robocalls and letters to alert potentially eligible jobless workers about the reactivated benefits.

For more information about eligibility and reopening claims, visit www.esd.wa.gov/newsandinformation/breakingnews/euc-tier3-restart.php.

People may also call the emergency unemployment compensation claims center, 877-558-8509.

The Employment Security Department says jobless workers who are claiming unemployment benefits should be aware that the entire federally funded emergency unemployment compensation program will end on Dec. 28, unless Congress votes to lengthen it.

In a news release, Employment Security Commissioner Dale Peinecke said the federal government shutdown in October contributed to the rise in the state's unemployment rate, triggering the extra federal support.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.