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Kemp announces plans to end federal pandemic unemployent next month



ATLANTA, Ga. – On Thursday, Gov. Brian P. Kemp and Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced Georgia’s plan for reemployment and economic recovery to address workforce shortages and boost a full economic recovery. In order to do this, Kemp announced that state labor officials plan to end Georgia’s participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs, effective Saturday, June 26, 2021. State officials also will provide resources for job search support, education and training opportunities, childcare and transportation services, and safe workplace initiatives for workers, families, and employers over the next several weeks.

In making this move, Georgia joins at least 11 other states that have already done so to address problems employers have had with finding workers. These include the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wyoming.

“During truly unprecedented times, hardworking Georgians have stayed resilient and businesses of all sizes have quickly adapted to an unpredictable environment,” Kemp said.. “Even in the middle of a global pandemic, job growth and economic development in Georgia remained strong – including an unemployment rate below the national average. To build on our momentum, accelerate a full economic recovery, and get more Georgians back to work in good-paying jobs, our state will end its participation in the federal COVID-19 unemployment programs, effective June 26th. As we emerge from this pandemic, Georgians deserve to get back to normal – and today’s announced economic recovery plan will help more employees and businesses across our state do so.”

Northeast Georgia’s unemployment rate in March was 3.4 %, the same as it was a year ago, according to figures provided last month by Butler. Since then, employers in Walton County have had difficulty finding workers and many believe it was partly because the extra unemployment benefits had a negative impact on people considering returning to the workforce. A sign at a restaurant in downtown Monroe last month let it be known that the shutdown of the restaurant was due to a lack of employees despite the fact that everything had been open for several months. Some employers have resorted to offering bonuses just to entice people to return to the workforce.

In accordance with Butler’s recommendations, effective Saturday, June 26, Georgia will no longer participate in the following federal programs:

• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides for an additional $300 weekly payment to recipients of unemployment compensation
• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), 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 (PEUC), which provides for an extension of benefits once regular benefits have been exhausted
• Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC), which provides an additional $100 benefit to certain people with mixed earnings

In a press release, it was announced that all payments under any of these federal programs will be processed and issued to eligible claimants through June 26, 2021. Once Georgia opts out of the federal programs, the Department of Labor (GDOL) will continue offering regular state unemployment insurance benefits to eligible Georgians. The maximum weekly benefit in the state is $365.

“GDOL has dispersed almost $22 billion in the past fourteen months to support families in this crisis, paying mortgages, electric bills, and grocery tabs when Georgians were in greatest need. It is critical for us to support our economy and local businesses by providing solutions to the roadblocks many Georgians have faced when returning to work,” Butler said. “Right now, the state has a historic number of jobs listed on Employ Georgia. We are seeing some of the highest pay scales with enhanced benefits and signing bonuses.”