Louisiana is set to become the first state with a Democrat governor to end the additional unemployment benefits offered during the COVID-19 pandemic at the end of next month, CNN reports.
Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday signed a bill ending the extra $300-per-week, a move he made on the condition that the state increase its maximum unemployment benefit by $28 to $275-per-week in 2022.
“For a long time now, Louisiana has had the smallest weekly benefit in the country. And we need to do better in that. Everything is a tradeoff,” Edwards said at a press conference, according to The Advocate.
“So, the 31st of July is not a bad compromise,” he added.
“The jobs are coming back in Louisiana pretty quickly and at a good pace,” the governor said, according to CBS affiliate KLFY-TV in Baton Rouge.
“Enabling businesses to compete with other businesses for talent rather than an enhanced unemployment program will help fill record-breaking openings and get Louisianans back to work,” said Adam Knapp, CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
Andrew Fitzgerald, BRAC’s senior director of business intelligence, added that “There is a perception that wages are really low, that these 33,000 jobs have low wages. But, the median is $22 an hour, which is very reasonable.”
However, the Louisiana Budget Project has come out against ending the extra benefits before the previous expiration date in September.
“What they’re doing is yanking $1,200 away from people at the time where they really need it,” Jan Moller, executive director of the Louisiana Budget Project, said. “The people who are getting these benefits are people who have just not found the kind of suitable job that compares to what they were doing to the pandemic.”
Davante Lewis, the Louisiana Budget Project director of public affairs and outreach, “While we are of course supportive and want to see benefits increase at the state level, we did not think pulling the rug out from under people in the middle of a pandemic still was an acceptable deal.”