Published October 16. 2013 7:00AM Updated October 16. 2013 7:23AM
Providence, R.I. (AP) — Thousands of unemployed Rhode Islanders could lose federal jobless benefits set to expire at the end of the year.
The Providence Journal reports that instead of debate in Congress about whether to extend the benefits beyond Dec. 31, Democrats and Republicans are focused on the partial government shutdown.
The 14-week benefit began in 2009 as part of the federal stimulus program to help the long-term unemployed after state benefits had expired. In Rhode Island, as many as 37 weeks of federal benefits are available.
The program is intended to help people in states with the highest unemployment rates get federal benefits for more weeks than those in states with lower rates.
With a 9.1 percent unemployment rate in Rhode Island for August, Rhode Island has the third-highest jobless rate in the country.