May 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Alabama governor orders end to federal COVID unemployment benefits

Photo of Kay Ivey looking off into the distance

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. Photo: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) on Monday ordered the state to terminate all participation in federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs.

Why it matters: Ivey, like South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R), cited labor shortages, but some experts say it's the job climate and not unemployment benefits that is determining people's return to work.

Details: The order is effective June 19 and puts an end to:

  • Additional $300 weekly payments to recipients of unemployment compensation.
  • Benefits for workers who usually would not qualify, such as gig or part-time workers.
  • Extension of benefits.
  • An additional $100 benefit to some people with mixed earnings.

What they're saying: "As Alabama’s economy continues its recovery, we are hearing from more and more business owners and employers that it is increasingly difficult to find workers to fill available jobs, even though job openings are abundant," Ivey said in a statement.

  • "Alabama is giving the federal government our 30-day notice that it’s time to get back to work."

Of note: Alabama has an unemployment rate of 3.8%, lower than the national rate of 6%.

The big picture: Ivey's announcement follows similar moves by South Carolina and Montana.

  • A Labor Department spokesperson told AP that the department has seen no evidence that enhanced unemployment benefits keep people from seeking work.
  • "Choosing to eliminate these critical benefits will have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable," the spokesperson said.
Go deeper