Federal unemployment benefits are ending next month for individuals nationwide, and hundreds of Oconeeans and thousands of South Carolinians will be affected. Because the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is expiring, all payments will cease, regardless of where a claimant falls on the four-tier EUC system. After December 29, South Carolinians filing for unemployment compensation will be eligible for no more than up to 20 weeks of state benefits. The Department of Employment and Workforce has released these estimates of local and area residents affected: 370 people in Oconee County, 573 in Pickens County, and 891 in Anderson County. Affected claimants are encouraged to take advantage of free resources in local SC Works centers and online at jobs.sc.works.org. EUC is a temporary federal program created in 2008 to assist individuals who have exhausted regular state benefits. The program was extended several times, but the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 set December as the end date.