State officials lobby to extend federal jobless benefits

Washington State Employment Commissioner Karen Lee was among 13 state officials with similar jobs who went back East last week, trying to persuade Congress to extend unemployment benefits by another 13 weeks.

Currently, the combination of state and federal jobless benefits could continue for as long as 79 weeks in Washington state.

“Many unemployment claimants are running out of benefits now, and it will start increasing exponentially by the end of September,” said Sheryl Hutchison, state Employment Security spokeswoman. “But the benefit program itself expires at the end of December.”

The extension would be for federal benefits.

Thanks to some other moves by the Legislature and Congress, the weekly benefits here range from a low of $225 a month to as much as $630 a month.