Governor Gordon Withdraws Wyoming from COVID-era Unemployment Programs
Governor Mark Gordon has announced that he is pulling Wyoming from its participation in federal supplemental unemployment benefit programs.
Per a news release, Governor Gordon is doing this "in order to address workforce shortages being felt throughout the state."
Programs that Wyoming participated in were made available through federal laws that were initiated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an effort to provide income to individuals and businesses who were affected by the pandemic.
They include the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, and Continued Assistance to Unemployed Workers Act of 2020.
The release noted that additional payments from these acts will no longer be made available to claimants as of June 19, 2021.
“Wyoming needs workers, our businesses are raring to go,” Governor Gordon said. “I recognize the challenges facing Wyoming employers, and I believe it’s critical for us to do what we can to encourage more hiring. Federal unemployment programs have provided short-term relief for displaced and vulnerable workers at a tough time, but are now hindering the pace of our recovery. People want to work, and work is available. Incentivizing people not to work is just plain un-American.”
The release states that as of June 19, 2021, "the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services will stop paying benefits to existing claimants and will no longer accept new claims for the following federal UI programs:
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – A $300 per week supplemental payment in addition to other UI benefits.
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – An extension of regular UI benefits. Regular UI is limited to 26 weeks. The current version of PEUC would extend UI benefits up to a maximum of 53 additional weeks.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Provided eligibility for many people who would not normally be eligible for UI benefits and who had lost their income due to COVID-19. This includes, for instance, those who were self-employed or those who worked for non-profits or other businesses that were not required to pay UI taxes."
Though Governor Gordon is withdrawing from Federal relief, "the Department of Workforce Services reminds Wyoming workers that state assistance is available when the FPUC, PEUC, and PUA programs end."
“The 20 Workforce Centers around the state have many opportunities to help those who are seeking work,” said DWS Director Robin Sessions Cooley. “The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) program and the Workforce Development Training Fund, including our Apprenticeship Grants and Internship Grants, can help a person obtain not just a job, but a career.”
Chris Brown, the Executive Director of the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association "welcomed" The Governor's decision, according to the release.
“We applaud Governor Gordon’s leadership with this decision and we look forward to providing true Wyoming hospitality to the visiting public as we continue to recover as an industry,” Brown said.
The release noted that the hospitality industry, including bars, restaurants, and more, was "among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Brown said that, now, the industry is struggling to hire staff.