ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp said Thursday morning that the state will end its participation in federal COVID-19 unemployment programs, including weekly additional benefits.
The last week people will receive the extra $300 checks in their bank accounts is June 26.
Kemp said the move is necessary to help the economy, especially small businesses.
“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,” Kemp said. “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.”
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The state will continue to offer regular unemployment benefits.
Channel 2′s Justin Gray confirmed the news with Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler and talked to Kemp about why the decision was made.
“For Georgia to continue to be the #1 state in the business, we’ve got to be more productive than we are right now,” Kemp said. “We can’t do that without workers, and that’s what this whole move is about.”
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Programs ending under the plan will include the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation.
The Georgia Department of Labor currently has over 250,000 open positions listed and will offer online support for job seekers including resume assistance, career counseling, skills testing, job fair information, job training services and special programs for veterans and people with disabilities.
Some Georgians said the move came too fast.
Gray talked to Elisha Cornish, who plans major events for the caterer Affairs to Remember. Her job, like her industry, isn’t back yet.
“With the extra $300, I was just being able to meet my bill with no extra,” Cornish said. “I’m crushed.”
Elizabeth Knight said that with an 8-year-old at home and school and childcare still not back to normal, she can’t go back to work yet.
“His safety is more important than me going back to work right now,” Knight said.
Gray asked Kemp what he would say to parents who are concerned about finding childcare.
“I talked to a day care owner yesterday and they need workers,” Kemp said. “So I think opening this marketplace will get them more help.”
The federal benefits were not set to expire until September. Gray asked Butler why the state didn’t just wait for the benefits to run out.
“I don’t think you can,” Butler said. “By then, the damage will be irreversible.”
Georgia is the 13th state to opt out of continued federal unemployment benefits.
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