Officials say hundreds in Whatcom County could lose jobless aid

More than 600 people in Whatcom County could lose their jobless benefits when the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program ends Dec. 28, according to the state’s Employment Security Department.

State officials estimated about 25,000 jobless workers across Washington will have their benefits shut off when the program ends—616 of them are in Whatcom County.

The jobless compensation program has paid about $6.3 billion in federally funded unemployment benefits to more than 452,000 jobless workers in Washington since it was first activated in July 2008, according to the Employment Security Department.

While Congress has extended the program 11 times within the past five years, state officials said there is no indication it will be reauthorized this time around.

A new federal budget deal announced on Capitol Hill this week does not include funding for the program.

Up to 63 weeks of unemployment benefits are currently available in Washington, including 26 weeks of regular benefits and 37 weeks of emergency unemployment compensation. After Dec. 28, only regular benefits will be available for most Washington workers.

In other counties around northwest Washington: 438 people in Skagit County could lose emergency benefits, 194 in Island County, and 22 in San Juan County, according to the Employment Security Department. Further south, in Snohomish County, benefits for 2,605 people are in jeopardy.

Officials with the Employment Security Department are using email, robocalls and direct mail to remind emergency benefits recipients that the program is ending. The messages also urge the workers to contact their local WorkSource office for assistance in finding work.

Should federal leaders approve another extension, officials will automatically notify potentially eligible individuals, according to the department.

Evan Marczynski, staff reporter for The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or

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