Governor withdraws Wyoming from COVID-era unemployment programs

(Cheyenne, WY) –  Governor Mark Gordon announced today, May 11, that Wyoming will end its participation in federal supplemental unemployment benefits in order to address workforce shortages being felt throughout the state.

The programs were made available through federal laws initiated in response to the pandemic and include Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Continued Assistance to Unemployed Workers Act of 2020. The additional payments will no longer be available to claimants as of June 19, 2021.

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“Wyoming needs workers, our businesses are raring to go,” Governor Gordon said. “I recognize the challenges facing Wyoming employers, and I believe it’s critical for us to do what we can to encourage more hiring. Federal unemployment programs have provided short-term relief for displaced and vulnerable workers at a tough time, but are now hindering the pace of our recovery. People want to work, and work is available. Incentivizing people not to work is just plain un-American.”

Effective June 19, 2021, theWyoming Department of Workforce Services will stop paying these benefits to existing claimants and will no longer accept new claims for the following federal UI programs:

  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)– A $300 per week supplemental payment in addition to other UI benefits.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)– An extension of regular UI benefits. Regular UI is limited to 26 weeks. The current version of PEUC would extend UI benefits up to a maximum of 53 additional weeks.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)– Provided eligibility for many people who would not normally be eligible for UI benefits and who had lost their income due to COVID-19. This includes, for instance, those who were self-employed or those who worked for non-profits or other businesses that were not required to pay UI taxes.

The Department of Workforce Services reminds Wyoming workers that state assistance is available when the FPUC, PEUC and PUA programs end.

“The 20 Workforce Centers around the state have many opportunities to help those who are seeking work,” said DWS Director Robin Sessions Cooley. “The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) program and the Workforce Development Training Fund, including our Apprenticeship Grants and Internship Grants, can help a person obtain not just a job, but a career.”

The Governor’s decision was welcomed by Chris Brown, Executive Director of the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association. The hospitality industry was among the hardest hit by the pandemic, but he said the industry is now struggling to hire staff.

“We applaud Governor Gordon’s leadership with this decision and we look forward to providing true Wyoming hospitality to the visiting public as we continue to recover as an industry,” Brown said.

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