SALEM - The House on Monday voted unanimously to extend unemployment benefits to Oregon workers whose benefits have already expired. House Bill 3305 will move to the Senate for its approval before going to the governor's desk.

The bill would provide an additional six and-a-half weeks of emergency unemployment benefits to those workers who exhausted their regular benefits on or after Dec. 1, 2004. The new emergency benefits would begin May 1 and end August 13.

-"This is the right thing to do," said Speaker of the House Karen Minnis (R, District 49). "Although our economy is improving, there are still many Oregonians out of work who have exhausted their unemployment benefits."

In Grant County, statistics from the Oregon Worksource Employment Department show that unemployment was down slightly in February compared to last year, from 14.4 percent to 14.1 percent.

In February 2004, there were 523 people out of work, in a labor force of 3,640 people. This year, the labor force increased to 3,708 people, 522 unemployed.

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