Montana Governor Greg Gianforte announced that by June 27 Montana will end its participation in the federal supplemental unemployment benefit program that provides the jobless with an additional $300 a week and replace it with return to work bonuses.   Congress enacted the supplement in its Covid legislation, but Governor Gianforte noted that it has become a disincentive to work. The announcement was reviewed by the Wall Street Journal in its editorial article.  According to the WSJ, Montana also plans to issue regulations strengthening requirements so those collecting unemployment checks must show that they are able and available to work and actively looking for a job.

Montana is ending it’s participation in all of the federally funded temporary pandemic UI programs including PUC (the extra $300), PEUC (continuation of the $300 after exhaustion of regular UC/PUC), PUA (the payment to individuals who are gig workers or independent contractors), and Mixed Earnings (payments to individuals who combine wages with income from non-wage work).  All of the programs will be sunset the week ending June 26, 2021.  Claims/payments/charges adjudicated after June 26 but for weeks of unemployment prior to June 26 will continue to be processed under the guidance of the respective pandemic program.

The cancellation of the additional federal payments sends a signal that these temporary measures should end, and if jobs are clearly available that point should be sooner rather than later. Giving employers and individuals notice that the payments will end for weeks after June 26th provides time for them to adjust and may impact behavior in more workers being available to take jobs now. Instead of providing an unemployment compensation supplement Governor Gianforte is proposing funding to incentivize return to work.

There is also congressional interest in replacing the extra $300 in pandemic unemployment compensation with a return to work bonus. Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX), the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) have introduced the “Back to Work Bonus Act” with this approach that could be combined with states choosing not to continue the extra $300 per week in federal benefits. See

We are following the details of the Montana announcement as other states may choose this approach and careful planning for implementation is needed to assure that claims that are paid prior to the cut off date are fully reimbursed to employers and state unemployment trust funds as the programs end in each state. The actions of individual states may also impact the ongoing policy discussions about further extensions of the temporary federal supplements that are scheduled to end the week prior to September 6, 2021.