Bonuses for essential workers varied widely by state
About one-third of U.S. states used federal COVID-19 aid to give bonuses to essential workers during the pandemic, but standards varied widely state-to-state as to who qualified for the rewards and how much they got, the Associated Press reports.
Why it matters: The pandemic highlighted the importance of the many underpaid and under-appreciated workers who helped keep America running, from delivering packages to stocking grocery store shelves.
The big picture: How states chose to use their federal COVID-19 aid was highly individualized.
- In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf (D), used $50 million of the federal funding to help 600 businesses give $3 hourly raises to workers earning less than $20 per hour, per AP.
- Missouri allocated funds to give an extra $500 per month to workers in high-contact workplaces, such as "prisons, mental health facilities and veterans nursing homes."
- In South Dakota, hazard pay was limited to state workers and only doled out for the time they were potentially exposed to COVID-19. "One therapy assistant got an extra 40 cents, a pharmacist received $1.80 and a maintenance supervisor got $4," reports AP.
What's more: President Biden's American Rescue Plan broadens the ability of states to use federal funding to provide backpay to essential workers, but few states are taking advantage, according to AP.
- Teachers and first responders in Florida will be receiving $1,000 bonuses, and Minnesota also hopes to distribute bonuses to essential workers by the end of the year.
- However, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) recently vetoed a budget proposal to give teachers $2,200 bonuses and an effort in Oregon to distribute up to $2,000 in bonuses for essential workers also failed, per AP.