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Around 1,600 Pima County residents will be cut off from receiving long-term unemployment benefits Saturday because Congress didn’t renew funding for the program.

The federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program was created in response to the recession, to help unemployed people receive benefits longer than the previously allowed 26 weeks.

Arizona started distributing long-term unemployment benefit payments in 2008. Those who qualified could receive up to 63 weeks of benefits.

One in 20 people in the Tucson area who received benefits last month were part of the temporary program, state figures show.

Statewide, 12,100 people will stop receiving .9 million a week in benefits, said Nicole Moon, an Arizona Department of Economic Security spokeswoman.

“The number of individuals receiving (long-term) benefits has been steadily declining over the year,” Moon said in an email. “At the beginning of 2013 we had over 27,000 individuals receiving benefits, we now have less than half that amount.”

The average duration of unemployment insurance payments now is around 16 weeks, said John Graeflin, a research analyst with Arizona’s Office of Employment and Population Statistics.

People who apply for benefits now will be eligible for up to 26 weeks of payments.

Around 25 percent of Arizona’s unemployed receive benefit payments, Graeflin said.

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