Unemployed Idahoans will no longer be eligible to receive federal pandemic unemployment benefits, Gov. Brad Little announced Tuesday.

As of June 19, Idaho will no longer participate in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program or the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program provides people receiving unemployment benefits with an additional $300 per week, while the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program extends benefits once regular benefits have been exhausted. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program provides benefits to people who would not typically qualify for unemployment, such as those who are self-employed.

20-05-01 Gov Little MUG.jpg

In a statement explaining his decision, Little said he had heard anecdotally from some employers in the state that they were having trouble finding workers because the jobs they were offering paid less than potential workers receive on unemployment.

“It’s time to get back to work,” Little said in a statement explaining his decision. “My decision is based on a fundamental conservative principle—we do not want people on unemployment. We want people working.”

In Idaho, weekly unemployment payments are based on the recipients’ salary in their last job. The maximum amount any person in Idaho can earn on unemployment per week is $448, plus the additional $300 payments from the federal government—the equivalent of a $18.70 hourly wage for a 40-hour work week. Without the federal payments, the highest unemployment payments in Idaho will equate to an $11.20 hourly wage for a 40-hour week. The minimum wage in Idaho is currently $7.25, or $15,080 per year.

Last month, the Idaho Department of Labor reinstated pre-pandemic work search requirements for those seeking unemployment insurance, requiring claimants to prove they are actively seeking full-time employment each week to qualify for benefits.

Statewide, 10,443 Idahoans applied for unemployment benefits last week, with 2,330 people making initial claims and 8,113 people making continued claims.

Idaho’s March unemployment rate—the most recent available through the Department of Labor—stood at 3.2%, down slightly from 3.3% in February.

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

Load comments