At least nine states have announced they will end participation in unemployment assistance programs aimed at alleviating problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Among them: $ 300 unemployment checks, which, for any state that does not opt out, will be extended until September 6.
Tennessee is one of the latest states to pull out of the program, as many Republicans say the extra funds allow low-wage workers to earn more money while staying at home.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee briefed the US Department of Labor on Tuesday, joining Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and Carolina South to end state participation in federal unemployment programs.
“Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful jobs and abandon short-term federal solutions,” Lee said in a statement. The aid program will end in June.
Many state governors echoed the importance of small business in their statements.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said she would cut unemployment benefits because business leaders complained they couldn’t find enough job seekers. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said he made the decision after several meetings with small business owners.
“It has become clear to me that we cannot have a full economic recovery until we fill the thousands of jobs available in our state,” he said.
But others have pointed out that labor shortages and manpower problems threaten to dampen the pace of economic growth. Many Republican experts blame him on these unemployment benefits.
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In Missouri, which on Tuesday announced it would end all federal unemployment benefits, Gov. Mike Parson said continuing these programs “only exacerbates the workforce problems we are in. currently facing ”.
“It is time that we end these programs that have kept people out of the workforce,” he said.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said the extra unemployment benefits were meant to help people during the height of the pandemic, but it “turned into a dangerous federal right”, which has resulted in its reduction of programs last week.
“In many cases, these payments are higher than the worker’s previous paychecks,” McMaster said. “These federal rights represent a clear and current danger to the health of our state’s businesses and to our economy.
“Since the Biden administration and Congress appear to have little to no understanding of the damage done and no desire to end federal payments, the state of South Carolina must take action.”
In Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey said it was time for Alabamians to “get back to work” in his statement announcing the end of state participation in programs.
“We have announced the end date of our state of emergency, there are no industry closures and daycare centers are operating without restrictions,” Ivey said in a statement. “The vaccines are available for all adults.”
Studies suggest that increasing unemployment benefits did not affect job search. And labor experts say the shortage isn’t just about the $ 300 payment.
Some unemployed people have also been reluctant to look for work because of fear of catching the coronavirus. Others have found new professions rather than going back to their old jobs. Many women, especially working mothers, have had to leave the workforce to care for children.
“Our economic recovery is nuanced and many Missourians have not been able to return to work because they still have children at home after school or because jobs are not available in their area,” Amy said. Blouin, president of the Missouri Budget Project. .
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the main reason people don’t return to work is “fear, because of the virus”.
Contributing: Natalie Allison, Nashville Tennessean; Brian Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser; Summer Ballentine, Springfield News Manager; Keisha Rowe, Clarion Ledger; The Associated Press