ALABAMA (WAFF) - Long term unemployment benefits ran out for more than one million Americans on Saturday.
This came after Congress failed to pass an extension. Roughly 12,000 people in Alabama lost those benefits, including hundreds of people in the Tennessee Valley.
The new budget approved by Congress did not include an extension of benefits, which started after the 2008 recession. State officials said they're working twice as hard to match unemployed Alabamians with thousands of job opening around the state.
For most families, the checks are between $200 and $300 a month. The cut means that instead of receiving up to 54 weeks of unemployment benefits, jobless Americans will receive 26 weeks of pay.
Since 2008, those benefits have been renewed by Congress eleven times. But now, Congress has failed to pass an extension in the budget deal.
The county with the highest number of people impacted in Alabama is Madison, with nearly 900 people. Morgan County is the second with 307, and Franklin County has the least with 71. The next step for leaders in Alabama is finding those people work.
Alabama Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees said, "We're seeing the economy picking up. We are seeing more jobs being available so we hope that we can match these up quickly through our career centers throughout the state and other means that we have."
Reinstating those benefits is expected to be one of the first priorities for Congressional Democrats in the new year.