This State Is Paying Workers to Get a Job and Come Off Unemployment

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on May 20, 2021

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A diverse group of individuals awaiting job interviews.

Image source: Getty Images

As more states end boosted unemployment early, one is stepping up to help jobless workers get back to work.

When the American Rescue Plan was signed into law in mid-March, it did more than just send stimulus payments to recipients' bank accounts. It also gave unemployment benefits a weekly $300 boost through early September and extended emergency benefits for gig workers who normally aren't entitled to unemployment.

But a large number of states are pulling the plug on those programs early. The reason? For some, it's a matter of wanting to prevent local labor shortages. For others, it's that their individual state jobless levels have declined.

Ultimately, many lawmakers believe that giving jobless workers a $300 weekly boost in their unemployment checks is keeping them from going out and seeking work. And given that some lower-wage workers may actually be earning more money on unemployment right now than they would at a full-time job, that concern holds water.

To address this issue, one state is stepping up and making it more financially appealing -- and viable -- for those on unemployment to get a job. Keep reading to learn more about Colorado's plan for unemployed workers.

Colorado will pay unemployed workers to get a job

So far, Colorado is not among those states that are cutting off boosted unemployment benefits early. But it does want to motivate people without jobs to get back to work.

To this end, it's introducing a program called Colorado Jumpstart. Under the program, eligible jobless workers who re-enter the labor force through May 29 will be eligible for up to $1,600 when they come off of unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, those who return to a job between May 30 and June 26 will be eligible to receive up to $1,200.

In either scenario, half of that money will be paid after four weeks of employment. The remaining half will be paid after eight weeks on the job. If an unemployed worker who takes a job leaves it after getting an initial payment, that worker won't be eligible for a second payment but can keep the first.

To qualify for this incentive, unemployed workers must have received at least one week of unemployment benefits of $25 or more between March 28, 2021, and May 16, 2021.

A better way to encourage people without jobs

Unlike many other states, Colorado's approach to the unemployment situation acknowledges some of the constraints jobless workers face in re-entering the labor force.

Not only does it take money to travel to interviews, but there are costs involved in getting a job, from having to purchase work attire to securing and paying for childcare. The fact that Colorado is motivating people with a financial boost rather than a financial penalty is a model we should hope other states choose to emulate.

To be fair, some of the states that are ending boosted unemployment early are softening the blow and offering incentives for unemployed workers to get back to work.

Montana, for example, is giving workers a $1,200 bonus for coming off of unemployment and getting a job. Meanwhile, Arizona is offering a $2,000 bonus for those who return to full-time work and $1,000 for those who take a part-time job. It's also offering childcare assistance to those who need coverage to go back to work.

Still, there are many states that are simply pulling the plug on boosted unemployment ahead of schedule and offering jobless workers nothing. And that puts a lot of people in an unfortunate financial predicament.

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