CORONAVIRUS UTAH

Utah To End Extra Unemployment Benefits Tied To Pandemic

May 12, 2021, 10:12 AM | Updated: May 13, 2021, 1:17 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Gov. Spencer Cox announced Utah will end federal unemployment programs tied to the pandemic.

The $300 weekly stimulus payment, as well as the other federal unemployment programs, will end on June 26.

“This is the natural next step in getting the state and people’s lives back to normal,” Cox said. “I believe in the value of work. With the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.9% and plenty of good paying jobs available today, it makes sense to transition away from these extra benefits that were never intended to be permanent. The market should not be competing with government for workers.”

Several states, including Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina and Tennessee have also announced plans to end the extra benefits.

State officials said approximately 28,000 Utahns are currently receiving the additional $300-per-week federal benefit, and federal unemployment assistance in Utah totals $12.4 million a week.

The Department of Workforce Services said there are currently 50,000 jobs available in the state.

“As employers compete for workers, we are ready to help those local businesses recruit and hire employees,” said Casey Cameron, executive director of the Department of Workforce Services. “For job seekers, we can provide career coaching, education assistance, job search help and more, either online or in-person at an employment center. For many workers, this transition can be a great time to gain additional skills and open doors to new opportunities.”

The Utah Democratic Party and the advocacy group Alliance for a Better Utah criticized the governor’s decision to end the federal programs before their original September 6 expiration date.

“Every Utahn, regardless of where they live or their education level, deserves to be able to pay their bills, keep a roof over their head, and feed themselves and their families. We cannot afford, financially or morally, to return to a ‘normal’ where hardworking Utahns cannot afford to take care of themselves or their families,” said Chase Thomas, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah.

“Gov. Cox is failing Utah and our neighbors by ending pandemic unemployment benefits,” the Utah Democratic Party said in a tweet. “COVID-19 is far from over, and treating it like it is will only exacerbate it.”

For those still struggling due to the pandemic, other safety net programs are available such as rent, utility, food and medical assistance. For more information about additional pandemic relief programs and details about the federal unemployment insurance programs ending, visit jobs.utah.gov.

Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called for Washington to stop paying out-of-work Americans the extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits, saying the boost in government aid is giving some recipients less incentive to look for work.

While some low-income workers may be reluctant to look for work because they are receiving a federal boost in aid, on top of state benefits, other factors may be keeping some Americans from returning to work, including fear of contracting the coronavirus or because they need to care for children who haven’t returned to school.

Sen. Mike Lee called the governor’s move “an important step forward” and Sen. Mitt Romney said he applauds the change.

“Paying people more money not to work disincentivizes work, plain and simple,” Romney said in a tweet. “Increased unemployment benefits are leaving employers struggling to staff up. I applaud @GovCox for this decision — it’s time we reopen our economy.”

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Utah To End Extra Unemployment Benefits Tied To Pandemic