Gov. Henry McMaster is ordering the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce to withdraw from the federal government’s federal pandemic unemployment programs.
Starting on June 30, the state will no longer participate in the expanded unemployment benefits put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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 healthcare sectors — now face an unprecedented labor shortage,” McMaster wrote in a letter to DEW Executive Director Dan Ellzey.
South Carolina’s unemployment rate reached 12.8% in April of last year. In March, the unemployment rate was down to 5.1%, below the national rate of 6%.
McMaster said South Carolina has more than 81,000 available job openings as the economy has reopened and as restrictions have been lifted and the COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed.
“While the federal funds supported our unemployed workers during the peak of COVID-19, we fully agree that reemployment is the best recovery plan for South Carolinians and the economic health of the state,” McMaster said.
The pandemic led to a slow down of the economy and higher unemployment rates. In order to assist people, the federal government expanded unemployment benefits. The benefit was initially $600 a week, given in addition to the state unemployment benefit, when the federal program started early in the pandemic.
The federal benefit was reduced to an additional $300 a week for those on unemployment, and the American Rescue Plan, signed by President Joe Biden in March continues the federal $300-a-week unemployment benefit until Sept. 6.
However, the expansion led to criticism that some people would make more while on unemployment than while they worked.
On Tuesday days ago, Montana’s Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte also announced plans for his state to withdraw from the program.
This is a developing story and will be updated.