Gov. Cox to end pandemic unemployment payments

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Governor Spencer J. Cox provides updates on the ongoing pandemic during the weekly briefing on COVID-19 at the Capitol, May 6, 2021.

SALT LAKE CITY — Encouraged by positive job growth, Gov. Spencer Cox announced Wednesday the discontinuation of the federal unemployment programs tied to the pandemic as part of the federal stimulus package. The $300 weekly stimulus payment, as well as the other federal unemployment programs, will end June 26, 2021.

In a press release, Cox said, “This is the natural next step in getting the state and people’s lives back to normal.”

Approximately 28,000 Utahns are currently receiving this additional $300-per-week federal benefit. Of those, 11,000 are receiving federal extended benefits, 2,500 individuals receive federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and 200 receive federal Mixed-Earner Unemployment Compensation. Currently, federal pandemic unemployment assistance in Utah totals $12.4 million a week.

Cox said he believes in the value of work, explaining that 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 the extra benefits that were never intended to be permanent.

With the state’s economic recovery in full swing, there is no shortage of jobs in Utah. The Department of Workforce Services website, jobs.utah.gov, has 50,000 available job openings, while job listings aggregator Help Wanted shows 72,000 available jobs in Utah.

The market should not be competing with government for workers,” said Cox.

Casey Cameron, executive director of the Department of Workforce Services, said as employers compete for workers they are ready to help those local businesses recruit and hire employees. For job seekers, they can provide career coaching, education assistance, job search help and more, either online or in-person at an employment center.

Utah’s business community applauded the move.

Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance said, “The challenge our economy currently faces is not the scarcity of well-paying jobs, but the lack of workers. For our state to remain a national economic leader and for our communities to be prosperous, we need to normalize the labor market by assisting those currently unemployed to find opportunities to rejoin the workforce as soon as possible.”

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.


will@cvradio.com

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