More Unemployment Benefits for Hurricane Evacuees

Thirteen-week unemployment aid extension for both Katrina and Rita evacuees

President George W. Bush signed legislation Monday that prolongs by 13 weeks the amount of time evacuees of both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita can receive federal unemployment benefits.

About 90,000 Katrina evacuees from the state of Louisiana alone will receive extended benefits, said a Louisiana Department of Labor press spokesman last week, and about 19,500 of those people currently have Texas addresses. In addition, the Texas Workforce Commission has filed about 64,235 claims for unemployment benefits from the 22 counties impacted by Hurricane Rita, said Deputy Communications Director Ann Hatchitt. The commission was still in the process at press time of figuring out how many of these people continue to receive unemployment benefits.

The Senate had already approved a bill extending Katrina evacuee benefits from 26 to 39 weeks, but it didn't pertain to Rita evacuees. The House, however, unanimously passed a bill last Thursday that included Rita evacuees, and it went back to the Senate for approval last Friday.

Most Katrina evacuees' benefits were originally slated to run out March 4, while most Rita evacuees' benefits were initially scheduled to end March 25.

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