Growing number of GOP-led states move to opt out of federal COVID-19 unemployment programs

Individuals in more than a dozen states will no longer be able to receive a $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit.
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Person walks past now hiring sign in Virginia in May 2020
Person walks past now hiring sign in Virginia in May 2020
(OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

As a growing number of Republican-led states are moving to opt out of enhanced federal unemployment benefits offered amid the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals in more than a dozen states will no longer be able to receive a $300 weekly benefit.

Georgia will cut off its participation in federal coronavirus unemployment programs effective June 26.

During a Thursday interview on Fox News, Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said "we're not doing away with regular unemployment. You know, we're just taking away this federal subsidy that's encouraging people not to get in the workforce."

Alabama will dump the federal pandemic unemployment programs effective June 19, one week sooner than Georgia.

"As Alabama's economy continues its recovery, we are hearing from more and more business owners and employers that it is increasingly difficult to find workers to fill available jobs, even though job openings are abundant,” GOP Gov. Kay Ivey said. "Among other factors, increased unemployment assistance, which was meant to be a short-term relief program during emergency related shutdowns, is now contributing to a labor shortage that is compromising the continuation of our economic recovery." 

But while some contend that federal benefits are incentivizing people to stay home rather than jump back into the workforce, others point to issues such as child care and coronavirus concerns.