AUGUSTA — Maine’s labor commissioner says that unless Congress acts before the end of the month, thousands of Mainers will lose their unemployment benefits during the coming months.

Commissioner Laura Fortman told the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee today that absent federal action by Nov. 30, some 21,500 Mainers will lose their benefits over the next five months.

Extensions to the regular 26-week benefit period had been authorized due to the high number of workers who lost their jobs. In some states the number was as high as 99 weeks, but in Maine the upper limit was 93.

Fortman told the committee that she sees no encouraging signs that Congress will act before the end of the year.

Today’s meeting was the committee’s last before the new Legislature is seated.