Indiana is joining a growing list of states opting out of federal pandemic unemployment benefits. The program adds $300 per week on top of state benefits, and Governor Eric Holcomb says the decision was made in part because employers are struggling to find enough workers.
Holcomb says state participation will end effective June 19.
“Eliminating these pandemic programs will not be a silver bullet for employers to find employees, but we currently have about 116,000 available jobs in the state that need filled now,” said Holcomb.
The additional funds were initially approved in March 2020 as part of the federal CARES Act under President Trump. It allocated an extra $600 per week. The federal program was extended by President Biden, but was lowered to $300 per week.
According to Forbes magazine, about 18 states have ended the federal assistance programs.
Indiana’s current unemployment rate is 3.9%, compared to about 17% at the height of the pandemic.
“I’ve spoken to leaders in the recreational vehicle industry who tell me they could hire thousands of people today, and in the last couple weeks, we’ve seen companies like Amazon, Apple, Toyota, and Milwaukee Tool announce thousands of new career opportunities for Hoosiers,” said Holcomb.
In addition to the $300 unemployment benefits, the state is also ending its participation in:
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which provides recipients extended benefits after their traditional 26 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits have been exhausted.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides benefits to individuals who do not normally qualify for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed, gig workers, and independent contractors.
- Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation, which provides a $100 additional weekly benefit for individuals who are eligible for regular unemployment benefits but also earned at least $5,000 in self-employment income
Last week, the governor signed an executive order requiring Hoosiers who are requesting unemployment benefits to be actively seeking full-time work beginning on June 1.