Connecticut announced that it will be sending one-time $1,000 checks to unemployed residents who find a job as businesses across the state and country struggle to fill open positions.
The "Back to Work CT" bonus will be available to anyone who received unemployment benefits in the last week of May, but works for at least two months before the end of this year.
"This is the latest [tool] in our toolbox to maximize our state’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic," Conn. Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.
GOP lawmakers and business leaders have blamed enhanced unemployment benefits for the hiring slowdown, as the federal government is scheduled to continue offering the $300 a week supplement through Sept. 6 on top of regular state unemployment benefits.
At least 20 states with Republican governors have said they plan to drop the federal sweetener as soon as next month to cut out what they see as an incentive for workers to stay home.
But one Republican, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, has pitched a nationwide bonus similar to what Connecticut is offering.
"The emergency UI program is now penalizing people for going back to work," Sen. Sasse said. "I’m introducing the National Signing Bonus Act. This bill converts the pandemic federal unemployment benefit into a two-month bonus equal to 101% of their current unemployment payment for anyone who gets a job."
Some economists and Democratic politicians have blamed a lack of child care and fears of contracting COVID-19 for the hiring slowdown, as opposed to enhanced unemployment benefits.
President Biden said earlier this month that his administration doesn't "see much evidence" that enhanced unemployment benefits are keeping people out of work.
However, the White House recently said that Biden is "directing the Secretary of Labor to work with states to reinstate work search requirements for UI recipients, if health and safety conditions allow."
"We’re going to make it clear to anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job they must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits," Biden said last week.
Work search requirements were waived at the beginning of the pandemic, but more than two dozen states have reinstated those requirements as the economy gets back on its feet.
The unemployment rate rose to 6.1% last month, far below the pandemic peak of 14.7% in April 2020, but still nearly twice as high as the rate before COVID-19 swept the nation.