Georgia to End Federal Unemployment Benefits in June | Georgia

(The Center Square) – The unemployed in Georgia will no longer receive additional weekly unemployment benefits from next month, Gov. Brian Kemp and Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said on Thursday.

The state will end three federal programs intended to supplement state unemployment benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides benefits to the self-employed, on-demand workers and workers. part-time workers.

Kemp said the programs stifled the state’s workforce recovery. The state paid nearly $ 22 billion in unemployment benefits to the states and the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even in the midst of a global pandemic, job growth and economic development in Georgia have remained strong – including an unemployment rate below the national average,” Kemp said in a statement. “To continue our momentum, accelerate a full economic recovery and put more Georgians back to work in well-paying jobs, our state will end its participation in federal COVID-19 unemployment programs, effective June 26. pandemic, Georgians deserve to get back to normal – and the economic recovery plan announced today will help more employees and businesses in our state do so. “

Kemp is one of dozen Republican governors who plan to opt out of federal programs before the September 6 expiration date.

Unemployed people in Georgia will stop receiving Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides an additional weekly payment of $ 300 in addition to state benefits, and emergency unemployment compensation in the event pandemic (PEUC), which compensates them after the exhaustion of their state benefits. Those with mixed incomes will no longer receive an additional $ 100 from the Mixed Employees Unemployment Compensation Program (MEUC).

Supporters of the change said it was a step towards normalcy.

Georgia Public Policy Foundation President and CEO Kyle Wingfield said Georgia’s workforce has returned to more than 99% of what it was before the pandemic, and employment is over 98% as high. The unemployment rate has fallen back to 4.5% from where it was just four years ago, he said.

Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) officials said job openings on the state’s official labor exchange system reached a record high of nearly a quarter of a million jobs, including several posts for each ad. Butler said employers have complained about the lack of candidates.

Over 250,000 jobs are listed on GDOL Employer Georgia website. The state agency has more than 200,000 PUA claims, officials said.

Since the end of March 2020, GDOL has processed more than 4.7 million initial claims for regular unemployment, more than the nine years before the combination of the pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has paid more than $ 21.2 billion in state and federal benefits. Once Georgia ends federal programs, GDOL will grant workers a maximum weekly allowance of $ 365, officials said.

“GDOL has dispersed nearly $ 22 billion over the past 14 months to support families in this crisis, paying mortgages, utility bills and grocery bills when Georgians needed them most,” Butler said in a statement. “It is essential for us to support our economy and local businesses by providing solutions to the roadblocks that many Georgians have faced when they return to work.

Georgia Budget and Policy Institute research associate Ray Khalfani said workers could weigh the health risks of returning to work against the benefits.

“There is still a global pandemic going on, and until we achieve herd immunity the health risks remain,” Khalfani said.

Khalfani said federal programs are a lifeline for unemployed workers, primarily the self-employed and construction workers, who make up more than half of the recovered workforce.

“They still live on the margins. I mean, they barely succeed. At least according to the accounts of so many people,” he said.

About Teresa G. Wilson

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