SPRINGFIELD — More than 2 million people nationwide receiving unemployment benefits could see their checks stop on Dec. 29.

That’s because a federal unemployment insurance program providing assistance beyond the initial 25-week regular state unemployment program expires at the end of the year.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, are pushing for Congress to extend the program.

The added federal benefits have been in place since the U.S. economy nosedived in 2008. They provided up to 53 weeks of unemployment insurance.

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Greg Rivara, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Employment Security, said the agency is still working to calculate how many recipients are affected by the expiration of the program. He said a final number could come next week.

Nationally, an estimated 2.1 million people could be affected.

The unemployment rate in Illinois is 8.8 percent, compared with 7.9 percent in the U.S.