South Carolina is reportedly joining Montana in putting an end to the federal pandemic unemployment benefits program that was offered to residents till now. The Republican governors from both states are of the opinion that the pandemic unemployment benefits are dissuading residents from rejoining the workforce and have created a labor shortage. 

South Carolina and Montana are the first two states to stop participation in the federal expansion of jobless benefits, which was enacted last spring by Congress as the pandemic had a huge impact on the economy and cost millions of Americans their jobs. 

The two states’ move is expected to be replicated in other states in the near future, given that the economy has started to spring back to life amidst the reducing number of coronavirus cases. Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, said the move is necessary to address the “severe worker shortage” in Montana. He added that several employers have notified him that they can’t seem to find employees, especially in construction, health care, hospitality, manufacturing, and leisure industries. 

Gianforte further said, “the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good.” He also mentioned Montana residents need to be incentivized to rejoin the workforce. Now that the pandemic unemployment benefits have come to an end for Montana residents, the state will be providing return-to-work bonuses of $1,200 to eligible residents. The payout will be made from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. 

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster did not mention a bonus payout in his announcement. However, he echoed Gov. Gianorte’s comments, saying state benefits combined with supplemental federal payments are higher than what some workers got paid in the past.

“What was intended to be a short-term financial assistance for the vulnerable and displaced during the height of the pandemic has turned into a dangerous federal entitlement, incentivizing and paying workers to stay at home rather than encouraging them to return to the workplace,” he added.