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Idaho Ends Federal Unemployment Benefits Months Early

Frankie Barnhill
Boise State Public Radio

Starting Saturday, unemployed people in Idaho will no longer receive hundreds of additional federal dollars every week.

Last month, Gov. Brad Little announced he was ending an extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits nearly three months before it expires. Recipients got that money on top of any benefits earned from the state.

He also directed the state labor department to stop allowing self-employed people to collect unemployment and ended a federal program that extends the length of time a person could collect these benefits.

Little says the move is in response to a tight labor market.

“My decision is based on a fundamental conservative principle – we do not want people on unemployment,” he said in a statement announcing the decision. “We want people working.”

Businesses are having trouble finding workers in Idaho and across the country because they say people collect more on unemployment than they would earn at a job.

But labor advocates say businesses aren’t paying a living wage to keep up with recent inflation or haven’t created a safe work environment amid the pandemic.

Idaho joins 11 other states in cutting federal unemployment benefits early, with several more promising to join over the summer.

For the week-ending June 12, the Idaho Department of Labor reported 14,531 Idahoans received unemployment benefits; more than 8,000 received only the federal benefits the state is ending.

Meanwhile, the department reported the unemployment rate in Idaho fell from 3.1% in April to 3% in May, as population growth in Idaho continues to drive increases in the labor force. Idaho now has 901,494 people in the workforce, and participation rate of 62.7%.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!
Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News.