Expanded federal unemployment benefits that were implemented during last year’s pandemic relief efforts are ending earlier than scheduled in Arkansas, Montana, and South Carolina—and Florida is expected to follow suit as Republican governors nationwide respond to pleas from businesses to encourage Americans to return to work.
“We absolutely can put more people to work,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) told reporters during a press conference Wednesday, announcing that Floridians receiving the $300 weekly extra payments will soon have to provide proof that they’re actively looking for a job.
The Republican governor signaled that he would soon follow a similar push from other GOP states in encouraging Americans to return to work.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has said that by the end of June his state would no longer participate in the extended weekly unemployment benefits under the Biden administration’s new $1.9 trillion stimulus plan—three months earlier than its expiration.
Earlier, the Republican governors of Montana and South Carolina announced similar plans, claiming that these benefits have discouraged people from returning to the workforce and have become a drag on the recovery.
GOP Texas lawmaker Kevin Brady meanwhile has said he expects more states will follow suit, accusing the White House of being “in denial” that many businesses are struggling to hire more people.
“Normally when you’re getting unemployment, the whole idea is that’s temporary, and you need to be looking for work to be able to get off unemployment,” DeSantis said of the matter. “It was a disaster, so we suspended those job search requirements. I think it’s pretty clear now, we have an abundance of job openings.”
“The demand is there. Businesses want to hire more people, and I think we can go in that direction very soon,” he added.
It comes as U.S. jobs growth for April was far lower than what the market had predicted. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs last month versus an estimate of 1 million. The unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent from 6 percent in March.