Today’s congressional approval of a two-month extension of long-term jobless benefits provides a reprieve to about 40,000 unemployed workers in Washington who would have lost their unemployment benefits by the end of January – and another 20,000 who would lose them by the end of February.
 
With today’s action, the state Employment Security Department has halted its phase-out of the “emergency unemployment compensation” program. Without a change in federal law, the program could have admitted no additional participants after Dec. 31. Congress also continued a second long-term benefits program called extended benefits.  It was slated to shut down in Washington later in January, further accelerating the number of people losing their unemployment benefits.