Two state officials have a plan to address Georgia’s workforce issue spurred by unending unemployment benefits and additional assistance from the federal government, practices that business owners say is forcing them to close their doors.
Governor Brian Kemp and Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced Thursday that the state will soon begin implementing a plan for reemployment and economic recovery.
In a joint press release on Thursday, state officials said the Georgia Department of Labor will end its participation in the federal pandemic unemployment programs as of Saturday, June 26, 2021. The state will provide additional resources for job searches, education and training opportunities, childcare services, transportation opportunities, and safe workplace initiatives for everyone.
The state will opt out of the following federal programs as of June 26, 2021:
- 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
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 state will continue offering regular state unemployment insurance benefits to those who are eligible with the maximum weekly benefit of $365.
The Georgia Department of Labor said on May 10 that GDOL has paid over $21.2 billion in state and federal benefits since the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020. Last week, the GDOL issued almost $190 million in benefits, which include regular unemployment and federally funded Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) supplements, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and State Extended Benefits.
In the press release, Governor Kemp stated:
“During truly unprecedented times, hardworking Georgians have stayed resilient and businesses of all sizes have quickly adapted to an unpredictable environment. 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.”
“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,” Labor Commissioner Mark 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.”
At the time of the announcement, more than 251,000 jobs were listed on EmployGeorgia.com. The state will resume career counseling, skills testing, job fair information, job training services, and accessibility and special accommodations for people with disabilities and veterans transitioning back into the workplace.