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Local News

Governor Announces End Of Federal Unemployment Benefits In Utah

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Utah.gov
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On Wednesday, Governor Spencer Cox announced the discontinuation of three Federal Unemployment programs initiated last year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Assistant Deputy Director at the Department of Workforce Services, Kevin Burt, the program costs about 12.4 million a week to cover about 28,000 unemployed Utahn's. Burt said with 50,000 job openings and 2.9% unemployment, the timing is right to end the federal unemployment supplemental programs. He said they considered several factors to justify the decision to decline the federal unemployment funds.

"Right now, there are no restrictions on business. Businesses are open in the state of Utah. We also know that the vaccine is readily available for anyone that wants it. And so, and then we also have the lowest unemployment rate in the state of Utah nationally at 2.9%. So then, as we were evaluating that, we wanted to take a look at okay, well, what are some of the other stimulus programs at the state is currently running. And do they make sense, given those conditions, and we found that this was the natural step."

Burt said the state unemployment benefits remain the same and would be available for those who have lost their jobs. Safety net assistance also remains available for those who need it.

"Rent assistance, food assistance, utility assistance, childcare assistance, medical assistance. So, there are certainly a lot of safety net programs to help support individuals that are still struggling with the pandemic, but the most critical thing is there are jobs, and we just want to connect these people to the jobs.

Wasatch County unemployment as of March is 3.6%, with an increase of 283 jobs since last March. Gross taxable sales were up 20.2% for the fourth quarter ending December 31.

In Summit County, the unemployment rate is 4.9%, with a decrease of about 1900 {1932} jobs year over year since March of 2020. Summit County ended 2020 with a 4.1% increase in gross taxable sales. Utah's sales were up 10.4%.

On the Governor's order, effective June 26, three supplemental pandemic unemployment programs will end in Utah, which Burt said would expire anyway on September 1.

"Individuals eligible for unemployment insurance currently get a $300 supplemental payment every week that they receive the unemployment benefit. Also, unemployment insurance, traditionally, is a state-funded benefit for up to 26 weeks. And right now, there are federally funded extended benefits, and we're going to opt-out of that as a state effective June 26 as well. And then the last larger program is the pandemic unemployment assistance, which is a temporary federally funded program for the self-employed in gig worker that are typically not eligible for unemployment insurance, And, we're going to opt-out of that one."

Heber Valley Economic and Tourism Executive Director Dallin Koecher said they are having trouble hiring and retaining people, especially in the leisure and hospitality businesses.
"They are trying to hire people, and they have folks go through the process, and then they don't show up for the first day or don't return phone calls. We're wondering if that may have some sort of tie to the benefits for unemployment. I'm interested to monitor and to see what the effects are and how it might affect our valley."

The unemployment rate in Utah is 2.9% which is the lowest in the country. State unemployment benefits will remain with 26 weeks at 50% of wages for those who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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