Idaho is betting cash bonuses will be enough to lure workers back to their jobs amid coronavirus anxiety and untypically generous unemployment benefits.
Idaho officials are hammering out the final details of a plan that will dole out $1,500 bash bonuses to residents who return to work and file an application through their employer. Part-time workers would get a $750 boost under the plan recently unveiled by Brad Little, the state’s Republican governor.
The bonuses are necessary, Little has argued, due to the extra $600 a week in jobless benefits unemployed workers have been receiving across the United States atop what they are already receiving through their various state assistance programs.
Little argued the fatter unemployment checks are keeping workers home, though the coronavirus pandemic and rising infection rates in many newly reopened states may also be a major factor, observers say.
Overall, Idaho reported 88 deaths so far due to the coronavirus, with 3,462 infections.
“A strong economic rebound cannot occur without workers returning to a job, and the new Return to Work cash bonuses incentivize our workforce to get back to work safely,” Little said in a press statement. “Like other states, Idaho went from record employment to record unemployment levels in a matter of weeks. Our hearts go out to those who lost jobs or income due to the global pandemic.”
Idaho officials say they will use up to $100 million in federal funds to pay for the back-to-work bonuses.
The application process has yet to start, with state officials pledging to roll out more details by Thursday. The executive committee of the Idaho Workforce Development Council is overseeing the bonus program and the drafting of the rules for it.
The money for the bonuses will be doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to Idaho officials.
Idaho on May 1 gave a green light to reopen to 90 percent of businesses in the state, with permission having since been granted to all businesses.