An Alabama judge has upheld Gov. Kay Ivey’s authority to end Alabama‘s participation in all federal pandemic unemployment compensation programs early. Plaintiffs had asked the court to require the governor and Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington to opt back into federal programs providing additional benefits to people who couldn’t find work because of the pandemic.
Governor Ivey said in May that Alabama would exit the programs in June. The federal COVID-19 unemployment benefits expired nationwide on Sept. 6.
“Opting out of the federal program early was a difficult decision for Governor Ivey,” NFIB State Director Rosemary Elebash said.
“When the pandemic began a year and a half ago, businesses throughout the state had to reduce hours, limit services or close altogether, and hundreds of thousands of Alabamians lost their jobs. Congress stepped up and voted to supplement their unemployment checks with federal dollars so families could get through the crisis without losing everything.
“Since then, our economy has turned around and businesses are hiring, but owners say there aren’t enough qualified applicants. A record 50% of small business owners surveyed last month by NFIB had positions they couldn’t fill. The worker shortage is affecting the supply chain and customer service and hampering Alabama’s economic recovery.
“Without a doubt, ending the federal supplement early encouraged more people to reenter the workforce, and that has kept Alabama’s labor shortage from being even worse.”