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SC governor ending COVID-19 unemployment relief in his state, blames extra money for labor shortage

SC governor ending COVID-19 unemployment relief in his state, blames extra money for labor shortage

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Virus Outbreak South Carolina

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2021 file photo, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about vaccine distribution and abortion during a news conference in Columbia, S.C. McMaster has opened up COVID-19 vaccination to all of the state's residents ages 16 and up, saying Friday, March 26, that they could begin scheduling appointments next week and receive the vaccine starting March 31. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, file)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced Thursday afternoon that he has directed the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce to terminate the state’s participation in all federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs effective June 30.

“South Carolina’s businesses have borne the brunt of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” McMaster said. “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. This labor shortage is being created in large part by the supplemental unemployment payments that the federal government provides claimants on top of their state unemployment benefits. In many instances, these payments are greater than the worker’s previous paychecks.”

McMaster said that what was intended to be short-term financial assistance to people struggling due to the pandemic has turned into a dangerous federal entitlement” and actually incentivizes workers to stay at home rather than encouraging them to return to the workplace.

“At the current time, there are 81,684 open positions in the state of South Carolina,” said Dan Ellzey, South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce director. The hotel and food-service industries have employee shortages that threaten their sustainability. However, no area of the economy has been spared from the pain of a labor shortage. 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. Last week’s initial claims numbers were the lowest since the pandemic began, and employers around the state are eager to hire and anxious to get South Carolina back to business.”

McMaster’s order applies to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation, Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations and Temporary Federal Funding of the First Week of Compensable Regular Unemployment for States with No Waiting Week.


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