Week by week, the federal emergency unemployment compensation approved in 2008 and 2009 is disappearing.
In Kansas, about 1,700 workers a month have been receiving their final extended benefits; in Missouri, about 3,850 a month are getting their final check.
The last payable week for all tiers of federal emergency unemployment benefits will be Dec. 29 this year.
Some workers at one time were able to draw up to 99 weeks of benefits, adding together their eligible weeks of regular state benefits, four tiers of federal emergency compensation, and weeks of extended state benefits.
Along with the statutory phase-out of the federal benefits, Kansas and Missouri are among the states in which workers no longer qualify for state extended benefits, which were another kind of prolonged aid offered in response to the severity of the recession.
The programs' ends are positive indicators that unemployment rates have dropped lower than the thresholds required to be eligible for the federally backed programs.
But the programs' ends also are pinching tens of thousands of long-term job hunters who haven't been able to return to work and rely on the jobless checks to pay their bills.
In Kansas last month, about 27,000 workers were receiving regular state benefits from the program that grants up to 26 weeks of assistance. Another 15,000 were receiving some level of emergency federal benefits.
In Missouri, about 50,000 were regular benefits recipients in the state program that grants up to 20 weeks of assistance, and about 41,000 were getting emergency federal aid.
For the two states, barring any changes in unemployment legislation or change in individual employment status, that means tens of thousands of workers may begin seeking other forms of assistance as the year winds down.
Operators of food pantries and other social service agencies say they're preparing to see first-time applicants for help. But some economists also believe that the end of extended benefits may prompt some unemployed workers to take any job available rather than hold out for preferable positions.
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