An increasing number of states are announcing that they will be ending their participation in federal unemployment programs and pledge to opt-out of the $300 weekly unemployment bonuses and extension of benefits as early as June 2021. Several states will also be ending the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). So, what does this mean for unemployment workers who are part of the federal unemployment programs?
As of May 17, 2021, 19 states have canceled bonus unemployment benefits offered through the American Rescue Plan. State governors have stated that these enhanced benefits discourage workers from taking jobs though some economic experts disagree. Members of our community also disagree with the governor’s decisions.
*“I’m not sure who can really live off of unemployment. If it wasn’t for the Grace of God and my savings I would be out on the street. I’ve been out of work for a year due to this pandemic. I faithfully get up and put in job applications. I have reached out to people for any leads, but still unemployed. Don’t assume that this is a way of living for people.” *
- Nedra Jeanlouis, Jobcase member
The reduction of benefits is estimated to affect at least 2 million people. The following states have announced they will be ending jobless benefits early.
| STATE | EFFECTIVE DATE | |----------------|----------------| | Alabama | June 19 | | Alaska | June 12 | | Arizona | July 10 | | Arkansas | June 26 | | Georgia | June 26 | | Idaho | June 19 | | Iowa | June 12 | | Mississippi | June 12 | | Missouri | June 12 | | Montana | June 27 | | New Hampshire | TBD | | North Dakota | June 19 | | Ohio | June 26 | | South Carolina | June 30 | | South Dakota | June 26 | | Tennessee | July 3 | | Utah | June 26 | | West Virginia | June 19 | | Wyoming | June 19 |
Be sure to check your state’s official government website for more information, as it may become a trend that more and more states pull out of these bonus programs.
Many states are trying to find ways to incentivize people to return to work as thousands of businesses are struggling to fill thousands of re-opened job openings. Some states have begun instituting “back to work” bonus payments to unemployed workers who find a job.
Governor Ducey announced on Thursday, May 13, 2021 that they will stop paying the $300 supplemental pay to unemployed workers, and will instead offer a $2,000 “back to work bonus” and other incentives in an effort to get Arizona citizens back to work.
Louisiana House Republicans are proposing a return-to-work bonus of up to $1,000 to workers who “give up their right to claim jobless benefits for six months.”
Michigan’s “return to work grant”, which has the goal of helping businesses find workers, will offer a $1,000 grant to unemployed people who secure a job.
Montana will become the first state in the country to end enhanced COVID-19 unemployment benefits, replacing them with a $1,200 bonus for unemployed citizens who return to work.
States have a limit on how many weeks an individual can stay on unemployment. Most give 26 weeks, some allow as few as 12 weeks, and others as many as 30 weeks. Under the most recent COVID-19 relief package, federal unemployment insurance will be extended through September 2021, offering a total of 53 weeks of additional benefits, except for states opting out.
Since it varies so much from state to state, those who have been unemployed for at least a year should get in touch with their state's labor department for any questions about unemployment eligibility and extensions.
New tax breaks, including the $10,200 in tax-free unemployment and the $3,600 child tax credit were introduced to help counter some of the financial burdens that unemployed workers have faced since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic.
What are your thoughts? Will ending extended unemployment benefits incentivize unemployed individuals to get back to work?