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Georgia to end weekly extra $300 per week in unemployment payments

Published: May. 13, 2021 at 10:12 AM CDT|Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 11:52 AM CDT
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ATLANTA - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday the state will end the $300 federal weekly jobless payments. Those payments were in addition to the pandemic unemployment checks.

The governor described the move as part of an effort to push more residents into the workforce, saying the incentives are “hurting our productivity not only in Georgia but around the country.”

Kemp’s press office clarifies the decision to end the $300/weekly federal unemployment will take effect June 26. For those still receiving unemployment benefits, you will still receive state jobless benefits up to $365 per week.

Earlier this week, state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said he’d met with Kemp to discuss the matter. It came a week after Butler said he would reinstate work search requirements for unemployment beneficiaries.

Kemp’s office said that in accordance with Butler’s recommendations, Georgia will no longer participate in:

  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provides for an additional $300 weekly payment to recipients of unemployment compensation.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides benefits for those who would not usually qualify, such as the self-employed, gig workers, and part-time workers.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which provides for an extension of benefits once regular benefits have been exhausted.
  • Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation , which provides an additional $100 benefit to certain people with mixed earnings

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce and a number of other business groups have called for suspending the benefits, citing a labor shortage.

Even as the state moves to end the extra benefits, many Georgians say they haven’t gotten the benefits they filed for months ago. Butler came under fire early in the legislative session from lawmakers who said he’d dine too little to address a backlog of unemployment claims. Inundated by complaints from constituents who say they’ve been wrongly denied jobless benefits, lawmakers threatened to strip the elected Republican official of much of his authority.

The move to cut benefits would come after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said last week the state will stop participating in federal pandemic programs that give extra cash to unemployed workers.

“Right now is the time to be looking. The job market right now is as hot as it’s ever been,” Butler said last week.

More than 230,000 jobs are listed on employgeorgia.com.

These are jobs the commissioner says unemployed Georgians should start applying for.

While the Georgia Department of Labor’s mission is to bridge the pay gap for those unemployed, Butler says the agency must now shift its focus to re-employment.

The mood is the same in South Carolina.

Dan Ellzey, executive director of the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce, said getting people back to work is best for the “economic health of the state.”

He said McMaster’s directive to end involvement in all federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs provides “a clear plan to accelerate our economy by transitioning individuals from unemployment to employment.”

U.S. employers added just 266,000 jobs in April, sharply lower than in March and far fewer than economists had expected.

The recovery from the pandemic recession has been so fast that many businesses have been caught flat-footed without enough workers in the face of surging consumer demand.

Last month’s hiring slowdown appears to reflect a host of factors. Nearly 3 million people are reluctant to look for work because they fear catching the virus, according to government surveys. More women also dropped out of the workforce last month, likely to care for children, after many of them had returned in the previous two months.

From reports by WRDW/WAGT, WTOC and The Associated Press