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State republicans propose to end extra unemployment benefits

50 of Wisconsin’s chambers of commerce including Marshfield, Mosinee and the Greater Wausau Chamber all signed a letter in support of ending the extra unemployment benefits.
Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 6:42 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - State lawmakers are proposing a bill to end the extra $300 a week federal unemployment benefits in Wisconsin.

They believe the extra money is contributing to a worker shortage.

50 of Wisconsin’s chambers of commerce including Marshfield, Mosinee and the Greater Wausau Chamber all signed a letter in support of ending the extra unemployment benefits. They want to see more people back in the workforce.

“This is a serious issue, this is an issue that impacts every corner of Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce VP of Communications Nick Novak said.

Novak said the state is facing a crisis level of a workforce shortage. Arguing enhanced federal unemployment benefits are keeping people at home.

“Right now, individuals can make up to the equivalent of $17 an hour on unemployment and that is serving as a disincentive to work,” Novak said.

He said there are thousands of jobs open in the state right now. A quick search on employment website ‘Indeed’ shows more than 108,000 openings, while the Job Center of Wisconsin lists more than 900.

Unemployment benefits are set to end in September, but republican lawmakers said businesses can’t wait that long.

“When you pay people more to stay home, they stay home and employers are desperate for employees right now,” Republican Sen. Howard Marklein said.

On Tuesday, May 18, republican lawmakers proposed to end federal unemployment benefits in Wisconsin. They argue the money saved from unemployment benefits should go towards sign-on bonuses.

“I think we need to do something different, other states around the country have shown that we certainly want to retain a safety net for those folks with no fault to their own have unemployment, but with so many jobs wanting, especially those that are good paying,” Speaker Robin Vos said.

The proposed bill would end four federal programs including pandemic unemployment assistance, pandemic emergency unemployment compensation, federal pandemic compensation and mixed earner unemployment compensation.

“We need to end those benefits quicker so we can get back into the workforce sooner,” Novak said.

Governor Tony Evers could veto the bill, and has signaled his opposition to it. Republican lawmakers hope Evers signs the proposed bill as soon as possible.

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