During his Team, Kentucky update last Thursday, Kentucky Democrat Governor Andy Beshear announced the state’s latest return to work incentive. The first 15,000 Kentuckians who return to work between June 24 to July 30 will receive a $1,500 bonus.
First 15,000 Kentuckians
The $1,500 return to work bonus applies to all working Kentuckians. They must remain employed between June 24 and July 30, 2021. Also, they must have an active unemployment insurance claim as of June 23, 2021.
Beshear said anyone interested to join the program should be receiving a $300 bonus unemployment payment or a similar payment option.
In addition, employers have the responsibility to complete an online application that verifies their acceptance of the applicant between the same period.
Employers also need to verify that the new employee worked 120 hours in the four weeks following their hiring. The state government made a full listing of the qualification criteria on the Back to Work incentive website. The last day to file an application for employees to apply for a return to work incentive is October 1, 2021.
Resisting The End To Extra Unemployment Benefits
Even as Beshear promoted his return to work program, the state continued to resist calls to end the extra $300 weekly unemployment benefits. The governor said that the unemployment benefits ultimately return back to the local economy.
That way, it helps businesses hit hard by COVID-19 stay afloat. Instead of removing this source of revenue, he wants to incentivize people to get back to work. These extra unemployment benefits will end by September.
Republicans Blast Beshear For Insulting Incentive Program
Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne (R) heavily criticized Beshear’s return to work incentive. He said that offering citizens a $1,500 bonus is “extremely insulting” to people who worked throughout the pandemic.
“This is just another example of the state government using taxpayer dollars to pick winners and losers,” Osborne added. In addition, critics insist that the extra jobless benefits discourage many people from applying for a new job.
Meanwhile, other local business leaders warn that Kentucky’s economy won’t fully recover from the pandemic until it solves the ongoing worker shortage.
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ashli Watts said in a statement Thursday that return-to-work incentives can form part of the solution. “The business community hopes this new incentive program will encourage Kentuckians to return to work, but we must also pursue other solutions,” Watts added.
However, Watts also pushed for the phasing out of the $300 in extra weekly federal unemployment payments. In addition, she suggested increased access to affordable, quality child care.
Providing Child Care Services To Help Workers Return To Work
The Kentucky governor admitted that the return to work incentive won’t resolve the worker shortage single-handedly. The state estimates that 60,000 Kentucky residents are presently receiving the extra $300 weekly jobless benefit, he said. In contrast, his back-to-work program can only accommodate 15,000 workers.
On the child-care front, Beshear’s administration said Kentucky received more than $763 million in federal funds to support child-care providers hit hard by the pandemic.
The funding will keep child care centers open throughout the pandemic. This will then enable more parents to return to work, Beshear said. Also, the governor said he’s “not foreclosing any possibility” in addressing the problem.
Among his options are an early cutoff of the extra unemployment payments. This will depend on the success of the return to the work incentive program.
Watch the WCPO 9 news report on Kentucky’s offer of $1,500 incentive to get people on unemployment back to work:
Do you agree with Governor Beshear’s $1,500 incentive for Kentucky residents who return to work earlier? In addition, do you support his decision to continue with the extra unemployment benefits to stimulate the local economy?
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