Republican governors across 23 states are slated to end early the generous expansion of federal unemployment benefits, which incentivize handouts over paychecks.
Americans on unemployment are offered an added $300 a week from the federal government under the $1.9 trillion coronavirus spending package, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, passed in March. The bill extended the $300-per-week enhanced benefit through September, though nearly half the states, all of which are run by Republicans, will decline the added bonus as employers are struggling to hire staff while many Americans are raking in government checks, a trend that is keeping unemployment high.
The following states have opted out of the benefit:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
The U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 14.7 percent in April as local lockdowns, which kicked millions out of work and onto generous government benefits, have complicated recovery. The average state benefit is $330 per week. With the extra $300 federal supplement, beneficiaries are raking in an average $630 per week, which comes out to more than $32,000 a year, about double the national minimum wage.
As states reopen, bringing back jobs in the process, employers struggling to bring back workers have been forced to get creative to incentivize a return to work, offering sign-on bonuses and gift cards. One McDonalds franchise in Florida even began to offer $50 merely for an interview, and “is still not attracting many applicants,” reported Business Insider.
Several states ending expansion of the federal unemployment benefit have begun to offer their own return-to-work bonus programs, including Arizona, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma, where workers can earn up to $2,000 in added cash when they take a new job, according to Fox Business.