Jul 11, 2021 - Health

Bonuses for essential workers varied widely by state

Stop&Shop home delivery truck with essential worker during Pandemic, Queens, New York

Stop&Shop home delivery truck with essential worker in Queens, New York. Photo: Lindsey Nicholson/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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.
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