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Kentucky Coalition Urging Beshear to Commit to Federal Jobless Benefits

Courtesy Bytemarks via Creative Commons

In a letter sent to Governor Andy Beshear, seventeen Kentucky organizations are urging him to commit to keeping federal unemployment benefits that are set to expire in September.

Beshear has indicated that he would not pull Kentucky from the federal program, known as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, that provides extra 300-dollar weekly payments for unemployed workers. 

Governors in Indiana, Tennessee, and Ohio have decided not to continue with the extra federal payments. 

The coalition of labor, health, education and community organizations say the benefits still serve as a critical role in recovering Kentucky’s economy. Some of those organizations include the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, Kentucky Voices for Health, Forward Kentucky, Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky, and the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

Jason Bailey, executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy said the extra payments are helping the state get back to a pre-pandemic economy. 

“To cut it (benefits) off prematurely, would be to take over 200 million dollars out of an already fragile recovery. So it would be economic malpractice to cut off these benefit right now,” Bailey explained.

Kentucky still has nearly 100,000 fewer jobs than before the pandemic hit and that cutting off benefits will hurt people still trying to find work. 

“There are more than 200,000 Kentuckians who’ve gone back to work, including about 40-thousand in the restaurant industry,” Bailey explained. “So people are going back to work as they are able and as jobs opens in their field.”

The two industries with the most workers receiving unemployment benefits are in manufacturing and construction.

Businesses and politicians in the state are wanting the Governor to get rid of the federal programming. 

Governors in Indiana, Tennessee, and Ohio have announced they will leave the federal program early. 

Former student intern Alana Watson rejoined WKU Public Radio in August 2020 as the Ohio Valley ReSource economics reporter. She transitioned to the station's All Things Considered Host in July of 2020 and became the student reporting and producing specialist in 2023. Watson has a B.A. in Broadcasting Journalism for Western Kentucky University and a M.A in Communications from Austin Peay State University. She is a Nashville native and has interned at WPLN-FM in Nashville. Watson was also a 2nd Century Fellow for Wisconsin Public Radio before rejoining WKU Public Radio. She has received numerous awards for her reporting.
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