By Duane Marsteller / The Tennessean
About 39,000 Tennesseans could lose their federal unemployment benefits early next year unless the program is extended again, which appears unlikely, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said.
The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is set to expire Jan. 2, meaning those recipients will get their last payments that week barring another extension , the agency said.
The program, which provides benefits to workers who've exhausted their state unemployment benefits, originally was scheduled to end in 2011 but was extended another year by Congress.
"There is no indication that there will be another extension of these benefits," said Karla Davis, the state's labor commissioner, in a statement. "It's important for claimants receiving federal benefits to understand this safety net will no longer be available."
The last payable week for all claimants receiving federal benefits will be the week ending Dec. 29, meaning they will receive their last payment the first week of January. After Jan. 2, benefits for new unemployment claims in Tennessee will be capped at 26 weeks.
The department said it will post additional updates at www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/2012_Unemployment_Update.shtml.