Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced on Tuesday morning the state will end its participation in federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs. The state will continue providing regular state unemployment insurance benefits to those who are eligible, but Iowa businesses and schools have reopened and the federal pandemic-related benefit programs are discouraging Iowans from returning to work.
“Our unemployment rate is at 3.7 percent, vaccines are available to anyone who wants one, and we have more jobs available than unemployed people,” Reynolds said. “Regular unemployment benefits will remain available, as they did before the pandemic, but it’s time for everyone who can to get back to work. This country needs to look to the future, and Iowa intends to lead the way.”
The week ending June 12, 2021 will mark the end of Iowa following federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs.
This decision by Gov. Reynolds has drawn plenty of praise.
The Iowa Association of Business and Industry said it is contacted every day by members looking for workers.
“Iowa had a workforce shortage prior to the pandemic,” said ABI President Mike Ralston. “The continued extended benefits have only exacerbated the challenge and slowed our recovery. ABI members are grateful to Gov. Reynolds for her willingness to stop additional extended benefits.”
In addition to the 3.7 percent unemployment rate from March, ABI noted Iowa has the seventh-highest GDP growth. Iowa’s Unemployment Trust fund has paid out more than $1.3 billion in state benefits since the beginning of the pandemic. There has also been more than $2.6 billion in federal unemployment benefits paid out since March 2020.
Congresswoman Ashley Hinson said she has heard from businesses across the state who also support the decision.
“I’ve heard from businesses across Iowa who have ‘Help Wanted’ signs on their doors, but can’t find workers to fill open jobs,” she said. “This is because the government is paying people to stay home instead of work—this is a huge issue and barrier to long-term economic growth. Economic policies that discourage people from working will pull down our economy. I applaud Governor Reynolds for continuing to implement common-sense policies that will put our economy back on track and help get our lives back to normal.”
Similar actions have taken place in Montana, South Carolina and Arkansas. Other states are considering taking the same measure as well.