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Jobless benefits extended

Marengo County’s unemployed will be eligible for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compensation benefits. That’s because the state’s jobless rate has averaged over 6 percent for three months.

The new eligibility will take effect on Feb. 15.

In November, the state qualified for an extension of 20 weeks. So the two extensions combined result in an additional 33 weeks of benefits added to the existing 26 weeks of regular benefits.

About 12,000 Alabamians may currently be eligible for the additional benefits.

The unemployment rate for Marengo County has hit its highest level in over a decade.

Earlier this week it was announced that the county’s unemployment rate shot up to 8.6%, the highest it has been in many years. The rate jumped from 6.9% in Nov. to 8.6% in Dec. Last year it was 5.8%.

There were 129 more people who filed for unemployment from Nov. to Dec. There were 213 more compared to last year’s unemployment figures.

Workers who may qualify for the extended benefits will be notified by mail with filing instructions.

Current and future claimants who exhaust their regular benefits will automatically be continued on the extended benefits as long as they qualify.

Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees said Thursday the additional benefits came through federal legislation.