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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
The state of Alabama is no longer eligible for nine weeks of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation, the Alabama Department of Labor confirmed Monday.
Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees says the state became ineligible because that tier of federal benefits, known as Tier 3, requires the state's average three month unemployment rate to remain at 7 percent or above.
That benchmark wasn't met following the announcement of January's rate. During the November 2012 to January 2013 period, the state averaged between 6.8 and 6.9 percent unemployment.
Unemployed Alabamians are currently eligible for up to 54 weeks of unemployment compensation benefits with the state holding responsibility to pay for the first 26 weeks. That first 26 weeks is called "regular" unemployment compensation. Beyond the initial 6 months, the federal government will pay for Tier 1 and Tier 2 benefits which are each 14 weeks in length.
Surtees said the Alabama Labor Department understands the difficulty some long term unemployed are going to experience from the reduction and urged them to obtain assistance through www.joblink.alabama.gov where there are more than 13,000 available jobs.
The Labor Commissioner said as long as all eligibility requirements are met, those claimants currently receiving Tier 3 benefits will be allowed to "phase-out" by collecting their remaining weeks' assistance.
Those in Tier 2 benefits for any week ending after April 13, 2013 will not be able to transition into the next level of assistance.