Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond this past week called on Georgia’s U.S. senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss to support quick approval of an extension of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and federal funding for state extended benefits (SEB).

“Without the proposed extension, benefits to about 8,000 laid-off Georgia workers currently receiving state extended benefits will be cut off starting Monday,” said Thurmond. “It is critical that the U.S. Congress extend these benefits and thereby provide much-needed additional relief to these laid-off workers. Our state’s job market is not yet strong enough to absorb the thousands of Georgia’s unemployed workers who are exhausting their benefits without being able to find jobs.”

Currently, in Georgia 198,000 laid-off workers are receiving federal EUC. Georgia lost a revised 204,300 jobs in 2009. The current unemployment rate in Georgia is 10.3 percent.

The EUC program is set to expire Sunday night unless an extension is approved by the U.S. Senate and subsequently signed by the President. The U.S. House approved legislation yesterday extending these federal benefits through April 5. The measure stalled in the Senate late last night.

If an extension is not passed, eligible unemployed workers would complete only the tier of federal EUC they now receive. However, no one would be eligible for new EUC, nor could anyone move to a new tier. Without an extension of federal financing, Georgia’s SEB program would also expire.

Georgia’s regular state unemployment insurance program is not affected by the legislation.