Some jobless benefits are set to expire for thousands in Mississippi and Alabama.
The emergency unemployment benefits are to end Saturday because Congress left town for the year without extending federal aid for the long-term unemployed.
The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program began in 2008 during the recession as a supplement to state benefits, especially in places with chronically high unemployment. The federal program is set to expire at the end of this year.
However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised a vote in early January on extending jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.
Federal unemployment benefits averaging less than $300 a week nationwide are set to be abruptly cut off three days after Christmas.
Reid says the Senate will vote no later than Jan. 7 on a measure to extend those benefits for three months. He says more people have been out of work for longer than six months than in past economic recoveries.
It will take at least five Republican votes to advance the measure. Reid already has one. Fellow Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is a co-sponsor.
Reid says the Senate will also vote early next year on raising the federal minimum wage from the current level of $7.25.
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