Wisconsin Legislature votes to end extra unemployment
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature has voted to eliminate a $300-a-week federal bonus for unemployed people, a measure that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has made clear he’s likely to veto.
The federal payment, approved to help the unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic, is scheduled to end on Sept. 6.
Twenty-five other states have already approved ending it early, saying it has exacerbated worker shortage problems. That’s the argument that Republicans, state and local chambers of commerce, trade groups and others are making for passing the bill in Wisconsin.
“This is not a silver bullet, it’s not a magic answer, it’s not a single solution for the problem, but it is probably in our mind and every employer that I talk to, the most important piece of the puzzle that we can fix immediately today,” said Speaker Robin Vos.
Democrats and labor experts say there are several factors fueling the worker shortage, many of which predate the pandemic. Some argue people have found jobs in different industries or others have left the workforce entirely to care for children.
Party leaders such as Rep. Gordon Hintz (D) say this move would hurt the people struggling more than it would help businesses find workers.
“These decisions eliminating unemployment benefits were tied to politics not economics,” said Hintz. “In other words there wasn’t a rational justification, it is simply attempting to undermine the effectiveness, meaning how much it actually benefits people but the perception politically.”
The state’s unemployment rate is currently at 3.8%, which is slightly higher than pre-pandemic levels.
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