Montana Becomes Latest State To Reopen Fully, Drop Extra Unemployment Benefits

Montana is dropping out of a federal program that offers an additional $300 in weekly unemployment benefit payments to out-of-work individuals as the state struggles with worker shortages.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte made the announcement earlier this week, now that the state has opened businesses and events to 100% capacity.

“Montana is open for business again, but I hear from too many employers throughout our state who can’t find workers," Gianforte said in a statement. "Nearly every sector in our economy faces a labor shortage."

Gianforte added that the extra unemployment benefits are doing Montana "more harm than good," as people can merely stay home and live off the extra federal pay, as opposed to returning to the workforce.

"Under the new Montana incentive program, workers receiving unemployment payments can qualify for a one-time $1,200 bonus after they have completed four weeks in their new jobs," The Associated Press reported. "The governor approved $15 million in funding for the incentives from federal coronavirus relief money allocated to the state."

The Montana Labor Department estimated that nearly 25,000 people in the state have filed unemployment claims, compared to about 14,000 available jobs.