Governor Gianforte Offering $1,200 to Montanans Who Get a Job
Businesses large and small have been lamenting the lack of good employees around Montana, with most of the blame going to the federal unemployment benefits program that was initiated at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a media release today (5/4) Governor Greg Gianforte outlined his two-step plan to entice unemployed laborers back to work.
April 2020 saw unemployment in Montana spike to 11.9% and 44,000 Montanan's lost their jobs, according to a report by Amy Watson, Senior Economist at the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. By July, 2020 those unemployment numbers had dropped to 6.4% and now we're nearly back to pre-pandemic levels.
The tight labor market, especially in service industries, has many employers scrambling across the state. Some coffee shops and restaurants have been forced to limit hours or even close on random days because they don't have enough staff. Here's the Gianforte's plan:
A Return-to-work bonus program.
This program will give those currently receiving unemployment benefits $1,200 if they get a job and keep it for at least four weeks. Individuals eligible for the program will be contacted by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.
Ending federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs.
This is exactly what it sounds like and Montana is the first state to do so. Any extra cash that unemployed workers were receiving will end June 27th. Unemployment will return to the way it operated pre-pandemic. That means minimum weekly job search requirements and not turning down a job if it's offered.
Governor Gianforte said in the news release,
Incentives matter, and the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good. We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce. Our return-to-work bonus and the return to pre-pandemic unemployment programs will help get more Montanans back to work.
The Huffpost noted in this article that there are many factors why people aren't returning to work. Interestingly, extended federal benefits is only a small reason why.
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