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Legislation would provide $180 weekly payments to workers who start new jobs

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A bipartisan bill introduced this week in Congress would provide $180 weekly payments to people who find new jobs after being unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Strengthening Unemployment Programs to Provide Opportunities for Recovery and Training (SUPPORT) for New Workers Act would help unemployed Americans get back into the workforce by helping cover the necessary costs inherent to the transition — while also continuing to provide critical assistance to Americans who are unable to find suitable work.

Specifically, the SUPPORT for New Workers Act would create a Newly Employed Worker Allowance, which would provide individuals who have recently become employed — after previously receiving unemployment insurance — with weekly payments of $180, which represents approximately 60 percent of their previous $300 per week payment through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Benefit.

These new, weekly payments would extend from the date of an individual’s hiring until the expiration of the FPUC on September 6, 2021 — or a maximum of nine weeks.

“The expansion of unemployment insurance has been a vital lifeline to individuals and families across our country who have lost their jobs and livelihoods in the last year,” said Seventh District Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, who helped introduce the SUPPORT for New Workers Act.

“However, as more Virginians become vaccinated and our economy rebuilds from the pandemic, our businesses have begun reopening and rehiring the employees they need to run at full capacity. Yet, many of these potential employees now face barriers to reentering the workforce, including childcare and transportation costs. These barriers must be addressed, but the burden should not rest on our small or medium-sized business owners alone,” Spanberger said. “By continuing to provide a percentage of federal unemployment benefits to individuals during their transition back into the workforce, this bipartisan, commonsense legislation presents an opportunity to address the staffing needs of our small business owners and allow individuals to reenter the workforce while still maintaining the fiscal security that they and their children depend on.”

The Spanberger-helmed legislation is supported by several Virginia businesses organizations — including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, & Travel Association, and ChamberRVA.

“As businesses around the Commonwealth work to recover from the significant impacts of the pandemic, the Virginia Chamber appreciates Congresswoman Spanberger’s efforts in getting Virginians back to work, while also addressing the needs of Virginia employers,” said Barry DuVal, president & CEO, Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

“With COVID-19 restrictions being lifted as the pandemic wanes, hospitality and tourism businesses are struggling to staff up for the increasing consumer demand. We are hearing frequently of restaurants that need to close for two days a week, hotel rooms that go unsold from shortages of cleaning staff, and other challenges as a result of staffing shortages. These businesses need assistance to encourage individuals to join the industry,” said Eric Terry, president, Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, & Travel Association. “The SUPPORT for New Workers Act will provide a needed boost to get employees back into the workforce of our restaurants, hotels, and attractions.”

“As the U.S. economy continues its robust recovery from the effects of the global pandemic, businesses of all types and sizes need employees, especially small businesses and those in the hospitality industry,” said Brian Anderson, president & CEO, ChamberRVA. “As the bonus unemployment benefits from the federal government may be impeding many from seeking employment, the legislation supported by Congresswoman Spanberger will incentivize individuals to return to work.”

Spanberger co-led the introduction of the SUPPORT for New Workers Act alongside U.S. Representatives Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11) and Peter Meijer (R-MI-03).

“The expansion of employment insurance during the darkest days of the pandemic was critical to keeping millions of families out of poverty and sustaining our economy,” said Sherrill. “Now, as we continue vaccination efforts and look towards fully reopening, we need to evolve our approach to reflect the changing economy. I have conducted small business walks across NJ-11 and I’ve heard about the difficulty of finding employees while many are still struggling with childcare issues and barriers to reentering the workforce. I’ve heard that too many people are having to make a choice between going back to work or keeping needed benefits. The legislation I introduced today will provide workers with weekly payments equal to 60% of their previous Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits when they return to work. In order to help reopen businesses and speed up our economic recovery, we can tweak our approach while also supporting the workers who continue to face challenges to returning to work related to the pandemic. This legislation will help us do both.”

“While the end of the pandemic is in sight and life is steadily getting back to normal for many people, our country is experiencing a serious workforce crisis that is severely hindering what could otherwise be a strong rebound from COVID and the challenges it presented,” said Meijer. “I hear from employers across West Michigan nearly every day about the labor supply problem that forces businesses to either reduce hours or close because they can’t find willing employees. The Biden Administration’s enhanced federal unemployment benefits incentivize Americans to stay home rather than get back to work. I am proud to introduce the bipartisan SUPPORT for New Workers Act to create the Newly Employed Worker Allowance that would provide new employees with weekly payments totaling 60 percent of their previous $300 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits. We must tailor these expansive unemployment benefits while encouraging Americans to return to work. If we don’t take action now, our economy will continue to remain crippled by our labor shortages.”

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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