- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island’s senior U.S. senator has filed legislation that would extend emergency unemployment benefits for six months, retroactive to when the program expired last year.

Democrat Jack Reed filed the new bill on Tuesday. He says the expiration on Dec. 28 of emergency benefits for the long-term unemployed has affected 2 million people in the U.S., including 8,000 in Rhode Island.

The federal program had since 2008 provided extra benefits to those who exhausted their 26 weeks of regular state benefits.

Rhode Island’s December unemployment rate of 9.3 percent is the highest in the country.

Reed calls the federal program a lifeline and says many people continue to struggle in a still-difficult job market.