BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The end of 2012 also means the end of extended federal jobless benefits to more than 6,000 people in Idaho. The Idaho Labor Department announced the expiration of federal unemployment checks Monday. The extended benefits were implemented in 2008 to soften the impact of the economic recession.

Workers in Idaho eligible for the checks will get their final payment this week for job hunting efforts done last week. The average check is $248. The news comes as Idaho's economy is improving and the state's unemployment rate has fallen from 8.9 percent 16 months ago to 6.8 percent in November. Still, Labor Department Deputy Director John McAllister says competition for jobs remains tough. Since the benefits extension, more than 95,000 Idaho workers have received $900 million in federally financed extended benefits.