Low unemployment rates, benefits ending sooner

Unemployed workers in Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota can't qualify for benefits beyond 60 weeks because unemployment rates remain so low.

Payments to workers in those Plains states are ending sooner because the benefits Congress approved deliver more help in areas where unemployment is highest.

Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota are the only states with unemployment rates that average below 6 percent, so those states qualify for only two of the four tiers of extended benefits.

State labor officials say they can't do anything to change who is eligible. In 31 states where unemployment has averaged above 8.5 percent over three months, some workers will be eligible to receive up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.