Governor Henry McMaster just instructed the South Carolina Department of Jobs and Workforce (DEW) to terminate South Carolina’s involvement in all federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs, effective June 30, 2021, to resolve ongoing labor shortages in the state.
In a letter to DEW Executive Director Dan Ellzey, Governor McMaster emphasized the urgent need to take immediate action to solve the unprecedented labor shortage, Wis TV reported.
“South Carolina’s businesses have borne the brunt of the financial impact of the COVID-19 (CCP-virus) pandemic. Those businesses that have survived—both large and small, and including those in the hospitality, tourism, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors—now face an unprecedented labor shortage,” governor McMaster wrote.
“This labor shortage is being created in large part by the supplemental unemployment payments that the federal government provides claimants on top of their state unemployment benefits. In many instances, these payments are greater than the worker’s previous pay checks. What was intended to be a short-term financial assistance for the vulnerable and displaced during the height of the pandemic has turned into a dangerous federal entitlement, incentivizing and paying workers to stay at home rather than encouraging them to return to the workplace,” the governor continued.
These federal entitlements, emphasized the governor, “pose a clear and present danger” to the health of South Carolina’s businesses and economy. He further stressed the need for immediate action, criticizing the Biden administration and Congress for the “little to no comprehension of the damage being done and no appetite to terminate the federal payments.”
In a memo to the governor, Director Ellzey listed current federal unemployment programs and what will change when the governor’s order takes effect on June 30.
Such programs include the following:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
- Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (EPUC)
- Temporary Federal Funding of the First Week of Compensable Regular Unemployment for States with No Waiting Week
- Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations
“At the current time, there are 81,684 open positions in the state of South Carolina. The hotel and food service industries have employee shortages that threaten their sustainability. However, no area of the economy has been spared the pain of a labor shortage,” said Ellzey in the memo. “While the federal funds supported our unemployed workers during the peak of COVID-19, we fully agree that reemployment is the best recovery plan for South Carolinians and the economic health of the state. Last week’s initial claims numbers were the lowest since the pandemic began, and employers around the state are eager to hire and anxious to get South Carolina back to business.”