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As Congress debates whether to extend long term federal unemployment benefits, tens of thousands of Coloradans could be affected by the outcome.

About 16,000 Coloradans were receiving the federal benefits in November and another 10,000 would likely have been eligible this month.  

Cher Haavind, with the state’s Department of Labor and Employment, said the department is advising recipients to keep their claims active and look to other social service agencies if they need help.

"They are considered the long term unemployed, they’ve been out of work upwards of 8 months, 10 months," Haavind said. "For many of them this is their way to make sure their bills are paid and they’re making ends meet."

Haavind says on average, a Coloradan receiving federal unemployment benefits gets about $300 a week, which also benefits the local economy. 

“They are actually using it and putting it back into the economy and avoiding foreclosure and making car payments and paying on debt, so this isn’t bonus money,” Haavind said.

Economist Mark Zandi at Moody’s Analytics estimates that every $1 of unemployment benefits generates about $1.50 in economic activity.