As the economy struggles to recover in the wake of COVID-19, many businesses have pointed to a lack of workers to hire for available jobs. Many lawmakers have blamed the federal unemployment aid that was provided to out-of-work individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for the stunted job growth. Now a growing number of states, including South Dakota, have made the decision to end those federal pandemic unemployment benefits. This strategy is hoped to increase the pool of people available for (and eager to) work.
The Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation Secretary, Ms. Marcia Hultman, explains that businesses in South Dakota continue to claim that they would grow and expand if it wasn’t for the lack of workers.
During COVID-19, South Dakota has participated in three unemployment-related programs in connection with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the Continued Assistance to Unemployed Workers Act of 2020.
Effective as of the week ending June 26, 2021, South Dakota will terminate its participation in the following three programs:
- The federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which had provided a total of 24 weeks of unemployment benefits to qualified individuals who had exhausted regular reemployment assistance benefits;
- The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which had provided a supplemental $300 weekly payment to claimants who were receiving unemployment benefits, regardless of the program under which they were being paid;
- The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. PUA currently provides benefits to independent contractors, the underemployed, the self-employed, and individuals who have been unable to work due to health or COVID-19-related reasons.
The agreement signed between the State of South Dakota and the United States Department of Labor initiating these programs allows either party to terminate the programs with 30 days’ notice to the other. South Dakota will continue to pay regular State reemployment assistance claims.
All claimants will be contacted by the SD Department of Labor, Reemployment Assistance Division, with further details after the U.S. DOL has provided further guidance. In addition, the SD Department of Labor and Regulation announced its on-line database called SDWORKS, with an average of over 23,000 job openings daily. Workers can visit www.sdjobs.org to search for job openings or receive virtual employment services, such as skills building or training.
It is anticipated that the strategy outlined above will give South Dakota the additional boost to its economy that will assist in making our state positioned for further growth and prosperity.
Please contact attorney Jennifer S. Frank at (605) 791-6450 for further information or questions.