Virginia won’t end enhanced unemployment benefits early like some states, Northam says

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As some governors are ending enhanced unemployment benefits early, Gov. Ralph Northam says that won’t happen in Virginia.

“There are individuals in Virginia that are having difficulty finding employment and, until they do that, federal help is something that will help them pay their bills. So we don’t have any plans of eliminating that in Virginia,” Northam told 8News in an interview.

In the American Rescue Plan, Congress extended the $300 federal supplement to state unemployment benefits through September 6th.

However, 25 states with Republican governors have recently announced plans to cut them off early as many businesses struggle to hire employees.

“While these federal programs provided important temporary relief, vaccines and jobs are now in good supply. And we have a critical problem where businesses across our state are trying to hire more people, but many are facing severe worker shortages,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement announcing the state’s policy change.

According to new Labor Department data, U.S. employers posted a record 9.3 million job openings in April but employers hired just 6.1 million. Some say that’s a sign positions are opening faster than businesses can fill them.

In a recent survey from the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association, 84% of restaurants said current staffing levels are lower than normal, with 42% saying they are more than 20% below normal levels.

Yet many have contested the notion that hiring woes are being caused by the federal boost to benefits, including President Joe Biden.

Virginia recently reinstated work search requirements for claimants to continue receiving payments following guidance from the Biden Adminstration.

Meanwhile, some have proposed offering one-time “back to work bonuses” to expedite economic recovery.

On Friday, Northam is holding a press conference to launch a “Return to Earn” grant program, though the details of the announcement are not yet known.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News for updates.


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