Gov. Beshear says ending extra jobless aid now would hurt the economy

Virus Outbreak Kentucky
Posted at 11:39 AM, May 18, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Cutting off supplemental federal payments to unemployed Kentuckians now would hurt the state's economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.

But the Democratic governor said he's willing to consider ending the weekly $300 federal unemployment payment eventually. Beshear said he's trying to “thread the needle” of maintaining the federal enhancements that pump tens of millions of dollars into the state's economy each week while encouraging people to go back to work as the economy fully reopens.

Much of the extra money is spent at grocery stores and other retail businesses, the governor said.

“An immediate termination of those extra benefits would hurt our economy and hurt a lot of groups — restaurants and others -- that have suffered during this pandemic," Beshear said. "It would put a shock through our system and it could threaten the way that our recovery is going.”

Governors are being pressed about the extra benefits as businesses report they can't find people to fill the openings they have to keep up with the rapidly strengthening economic rebound. Many people blame the pandemic-related benefits, including the supplemental federal payment on top of state benefits. They argue that people make more money staying home than going back to work.