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Beshear to offer back to work bonus instead of cutting off extra $300 unemployment benefits

Unemployed Kentuckians will continue to receive the additional $300 pandemic benefits, in...
Unemployed Kentuckians will continue to receive the additional $300 pandemic benefits, in addition to being offered a back to work bonus, according to Gov. Beshear.
Published: Jun. 18, 2021 at 3:14 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 6:48 PM CDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Governor Andy Beshear has a plan to get unemployed Kentuckians back to work: keep distributing the additional $300 federal pandemic unemployment benefits and offer a back to work bonus or payment. However, childcare centers aren’t confident it will work.

Many centers have struggled to get their own employees, who have been staying home receiving unemployment, return to work. According to Steve Magre, Executive Director of Childcare Advocates of Kentucky, most centers are operating at around 50 percent capacity because there aren’t enough workers.

Magre said other industries’ workers likely won’t return until childcare can operate at full capacity.

“It’s a little bit like a chicken and an egg,” Magre said, “because without child care services up and running and known to be there, there’s a lot of single mothers for sure that can’t become employed yet.”

It’s a never-ending cycle Magre said begins with childcare. He told WAVE 3 News part of the problem are the unemployment benefits, and the fact that most workers can qualify if they cite their fear of catching COVID-19 as the reason they need to stay home.

“There’s the enticement,” Magre said. “Why would a person in low-paying jobs choose to have to go work again if they were getting a sufficient amount of money to cover their expenses and stay home?”

Beshear won’t cut off the additional $300 benefits because he said the funds help support the economy.

“(Businesses) were in agreement that a first and perhaps better step, instead of prematurely terminating those (benefits) is to provide a back to work bonus or incentive,” Beshear said.

“Certainly in a normal workplace setting that type of enticement would work or be effective, but when you’re dealing with, they’re receiving unemployment for staying home, and they’ve really developed away from a center, a pattern of not working,” Magre said.

Beshear will announce more details about the back to work bonus sometime next week. The program wouldn’t begin until some time after.

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