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Maryland to end $300-a-week pandemic unemployment benefits in July

Maryland to end $300-a-week pandemic unemployment benefits in July

The decision makes Maryland the 25th GOP-led state to terminate the federal supplement and the 20th to completely pull out of the historic congressional expansion of unemployment benefits. Hogan pointed to rising vaccination numbers and worker shortages as reasons to end the “important temporary relief.”

“Our health and economic recovery continues to outpace the nation, and we have reached the benchmark set by President Biden of vaccinating 70% of adults,” the governor said in a statement.

“While these federal programs provided important temporary relief, vaccines and jobs are now in good supply,” he continued. “And we have a critical problem where businesses across our state are trying to hire more people, but many are facing severe worker shortages.”

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Hogan joins a succession of Republican governors who have opted in recent weeks to terminate one or more of the programs early. More than 4 million Americans were already set to forgo more than $23 billion in benefits, prior to Maryland’s announcement.

In addition to the $300 boost, the pandemic programs provide benefits for freelancers, the self-employed, independent contractors and certain people affected by the coronavirus pandemic and for those who’ve run out of their regular state payments.

Congress first approved the benefits expansion in its massive coronavirus relief plan in March 2020 and extended them twice since. The pandemic programs are scheduled to end in early September in the states that are continuing them, under a provision contained in the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion relief package that President Joe Biden signed into law in March.
A Biden administration official, however, told CNN last month that the White House cannot stop the Republican-led states from ending the programs early. Democratic lawmakers and consumer advocates had appealed to the US Department of Labor to prevent the GOP states from taking such action, arguing that many Americans are still having trouble finding suitable jobs or can’t work because of childcare or health-related issues caused by the pandemic.

Experts also say that these funds don’t only help the jobless, but also assist local businesses and economies because those out of work are able to continue spending on groceries, housing costs and other items.

But Hogan stressed in his statement that “after 12 consecutive months of job growth, we look forward to getting more Marylanders back to work.”

Maryland, however, has one of the highest unemployment rates of states terminating the programs, at 6.2% in April. It’s just slightly higher than the national jobless rate of 6.1%.

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