Unemployment benefits to drop by $25 a week for many

About 150,000 jobless workers in Washington will take a pay cut next week with the expiration of a federal stimulus program that added $25 to weekly benefit checks, according to the Employment Security Department of Washington State. The $25 increase was authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program expires Sat., Dec. 11. Since May 2009, nearly 400,000 jobless workers in Washington have collected more than $500 million from this additional benefit, which was not offered on new claims that were opened after May 2010. Washington’s average weekly benefit is about $370, while the minimum weekly check is $135.