JUNEAU - Thousands of Alaskans could benefit from an extension of an emergency unemployment program.
The extension, signed into law last week, allows for new claims to be filed under the program through next year and for payments to run until June 9, 2012.
The state labor department says the extension doesn't apply to those who've exhausted all their benefits. It merely offers a safety net for more workers who've lost their jobs.
Alaska's chief of unemployment insurance, Bill Kramer, says about 7,810 people currently receive emergency benefits. He says more than 35,000 Alaskans claim unemployment benefits of all types - a figure that he calls "pretty high."
Alaska's unemployment rate stood at 8 percent last month.
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