South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster ordered on Thursday the end of the state participating in federal unemployment benefit programs related to the pandemic by the end of June.
McMaster made the order to help address the workforce shortages in South Carolina, which he said is because of current federal unemployment benefits, according to a letter sent to director of the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce Daniel Ellzey.
“South Carolina’s businesses have borne the brunt of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those businesses that have survived — both large and small, and including those in the hospitality, tourism, manufacturing, and health care sectors — now face an unprecedented labor shortage,” McMaster wrote.
McMaster’s decision comes two days after Montana Gov. Greg Gianfort made the same decision in his state. The programs affected include:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
- Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)
- Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations
- Temporary Federal Funding of the First Week of Compensable Regular Unemployment for States with No Waiting Week
He said the additional unemployment benefits were meant to help people during the height of the pandemic, but has, “turned into a dangerous federal entitlement,” and puts blame on the Biden administration for not realizing its effects on the state.
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“In many instances, these payments are greater than the worker’s previous pay checks,” McMaster said. “These federal entitlements pose a clear and present danger to the health of our State’s businesses and to our economy. Since the Biden administration and Congress appear to have little to no comprehension of the damage being done and no appetite to terminate the federal payments, the State of South Carolina must take action.
Ellzey said last week was the lowest number of initial claims since the pandemic began but there are over 81,000 available jobs in the state.
“We fully agree that reemployment is the best recovery plan for South Carolinians and the economic health of the state,” Ellzey said. “Employers around the state are eager to hire and anxious to get South Carolina back to business.”
Over 108,000 South Carolina residents received unemployment benefits last week for an average of $230, according to the state’s DEW website. The state’s March unemployment rate was at 5.1% compared to the national rate of 6.0%.
Contributing: Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY. Follow him on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.