Joe Cunningham calls for $1,200 return-to-work bonus to jumpstart workforce

South Carolina News

FILE: $100 bills. (NEXSTAR)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham is proposing a $1,200 return-to-work bonus for unemployed workers to return to the job force.

The former U.S. Representative said funding for the bonuses would come from the American Rescue Plan to address the growing staffing shortages throughout the country due to the pandemic.

“South Carolina businesses are still reeling from a pandemic that caused new and unexpected challenges,” said Cunningham. “Now many are unable to fill jobs because of those challenges. From childcare issues and lack of in-person schooling to stagnant wages and understandable health concerns, there are numerous contributing factors to the current workforce shortage.”

Governor Henry McMaster last week directed the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce to terminate the state’s participation in all federal, pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs to address ongoing workforce shortages.

Gov. McMaster attributed much of the labor shortage to the supplemental unemployment payments that the federal government provides SCDEW claimants on top of their state unemployment benefits.

“In many instances, these payments are greater than the worker’s previous paychecks,” said Gov. McMaster. “What was intended to be 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,” he said.

Cunningham, though, said the solution is not to “carelessly rip away vital unemployment assistance to people who are out of work through no fault of their own.”

“We should continue to help our workers get back on their feet after this historic public health crisis and this one-time return-to-work bonus will do just that,” he said.

Another stipulation for the one-time bonus is that new hires remain on the job for at least one month.

Cunningham called for a similar return-to-work bonus while serving as Congressman for South Carolina’s first Congressional district.

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