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Montana creates ‘Return to Work’ bonus program and ditches federal unemployment benefits tied to pandemic

Many businesses in the capital area are opening for the first time and looking for employees.
Many businesses in the capital area are opening for the first time and looking for employees.(WAFB)
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 5:29 PM MDT|Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 5:46 AM MDT
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HELENA, Mont. (KKTV) - Montana’s governor is hoping to get people back to work by ditching federal pandemic-related unemployment programs and launching what he calls the “Return to Work” bonus program.

“Industries across Montana face a severe labor shortage,” Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte wrote in a tweet. “We must create incentives for Montanans to get back into the workforce.”

The Return to Work program will utilize federal funds authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act. Return-to-Work bonuses will be paid to unemployed individuals who rejoin the labor force and accept and maintain steady employment for at least one month.

The Return-to-Work bonus initiative will offer $1,200 payments to individuals receiving unemployment benefits as of May 4, 2021, who subsequently accept employment and complete at least four paid weeks of work.

The governor also announced Montana will end its participation in federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs and transition to pre-pandemic unemployment insurance eligibility and benefits by the end of June.

“Montana is open for business again, but I hear from too many employers throughout our state who can’t find workers. Nearly every sector in our economy faces a labor shortage,” Gianforte added.

Montana will be the first state in the nation to fully opt-out of the federal unemployment benefit programs enacted since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a release from Montana officials.

Click here to read more details on the changes taking place in Montana.

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