Senate approves jobless benefits bill

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The bill must be approved by the House before it becomes law

By Associated Press

WASHINGTON ­— U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman on Wednesday said he is pleased the Senate has approved legislation to extend unemployment benefits to thousands of New Mexicans who have been unable to find a job in this difficult economic climate.

  The bill would extend unemployment insurance by up to 14 additional weeks for jobless workers in all states and up to 20 weeks in hard-hit states with unemployment levels at or above 8.5 percent.

New Mexico’s unemployment rate as of September was 7.7 percent, up from 4.3 percent a year ago.  

  “Like the rest of the country, New Mexico is feeling the effects of the current economic situation,” Bingaman said. “While it is not a permanent solution, unemployment benefits provide many families with temporary relief as they continue to look for work. I am pleased it has cleared another hurdle.”

The bill does the following:

Extend unemployment insurance by up to 14 additional weeks for jobless workers who exhaust their benefits by Dec. 31; and

Extend benefits for an six additional weeks for workers who exhaust their unemployment benefits by Dec. 31, in states with unemployment levels over 8.5 percent.

The bill does the following to encourage new home-buying:

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