Around 104,000 Wisconsinites could lose their unemployment benefits by the end of April and state lawmakers have asked Congress to extend jobless payments and federal health assistance through the end of the year. Four Democrats from southern Wisconsin, including Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, told US Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus that the job market has not rebounded.

The state’s workforce development agency sent out letters to 8,000 people, saying their benefits will end in a few weeks. Spokesman John Dipko says the department will send similar notices to about 1,500 recipients a week. They list other options for getting assistance with health care, food, housing, job searches, and training. Wisconsinites can get up to 93 weeks of unemployment benefits, after Congress granted several extensions during the recession.

The state has lost 163,000 jobs over the last year, and its unemployment rate is now 8.7 percent.

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