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State to pay unemployed Kentuckians $1,500 to return to work

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 4:39 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2021 at 10:29 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Gov. Andy Beshear has a plan to motivate unemployed Kentuckians to return to work: Keep the additional $300 federal unemployment benefits which many states have stopped distributing and pay the first 15,000 people who return to work by July 30 $1,500.

The $22.5 million that will be used to cover the incentive program comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) fund.

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Gov. Andy Beshear (D-Ky.) said on June 24 he made the decision to not cut off the extra $300...
Gov. Andy Beshear (D-Ky.) said on June 24 he made the decision to not cut off the extra $300 federal unemployment benefits because the funds are stimulating the economy.

Beshear explained that the Kentucky workforce shortage is largely the result of a lack of childcare and retirements in a news conference on Thursday. He said he made the decision to not cut off the extra $300 because the funds are stimulating the economy.

“It’s not going to solve every workforce challenge because there are other factors, again, child care, continued concerns about the virus, retirements, and as we saw just recently people leaving their jobs, not just on unemployment but a very different and complex issue,” Beshear said.

To qualify for the back to work incentive, people must have a valid and open unemployment claim, they must have received benefits in weeks in 2021, they must be 18 or older, they must return to work by July 30 and work a total of 120 hours in the first four weeks. All of these requirements will be verified by the state and the employer to prevent fraud.

Nichelle Thurston, the owner of the Seafood Lady, told WAVE 3 News she hopes the incentive works. She is short around 14 staff members, which is preventing her restaurant from operating at full capacity.

“I think it’s great to give people an incentive to come back to work because right now they have an incentive to not come back to work,” Thurston said. “Giving them something that kind of balances out, saying maybe this is better, maybe this is not, give them a choice, but right now staying home is kind of beneficial for some people.”

Thurston said many of her employees left the industry for other jobs at the beginning of the pandemic. She said she believes some are worried about getting sick and haven’t returned to work. In addition, she said she thinks other workers may be receiving unemployment benefits.

For more information about the back-to-work incentive, click here.

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